Top 10 telecommunications companies
Gigabit examines the world’s top 10 telecommunications companies, and the services that they provide
10 | KDDI Japan
Offering up the usual gamut of fixed-line, mobile, internet and television services, KDDI Japan was formed in 2000 via the merger of three companies with similarly initialed names: DDI, KDD and IDO. Its mobile services are provided through the “au by KDDI” brand. The company is working on bringing 5G networks to Japan, in collaboration with both Samsung and Ericsson, with whom they have been working since 2015. 5G service is expected to begin in March 2020.
9 | China Telecom
One of two Chinese companies on this list, China Telecom is a state-owned organisation based in the capital of Beijing. A relative newcomer, having been founded in 2002, the company primarily caters to the Chinese market, offering both fixed-line and mobile telephony, as well as internet and television access. Recently, the company has partnered with the Philippines’ Udenna Corporation to create Dito Telecommunity, launching in 2020 for the Philippine market.
8 | Telefónica
Spain’s Telefonica does most of its business in both Europe and Latin America, where it operates under a number of different names. In its home country and Latin America, Telefónica’s Movistar subsidiary provides mobile phone services. In the UK and Germany, it uses the O2 brand, the acquisition of which was finalised in 2006. In Brazil it trades under the name of Vivo. In total, it operates in 14 countries.
7 | Softbank
It’s likely fair to say Softbank is more famous for its activities outside telecommunications than for its Softbank Mobile division. Via its $100bn venture capital Vision Fund and other methods it has invested in the likes of runaway success Alibaba and the more ill-fated WeWork. It is also the owner of US Telecommunications company Sprint. The company was founded in 1981 by Masoyashi Son as a computer parts store. He remains the CEO.
6 | Deutsche Telekom
Like many of the companies on this list, Deutsche Telekom began as a government organisation - in this case part of the postal system. Privatised in 1996, the company now boasts some 178mn mobile customers, as well as 20mn broadband lines. Outside of Germany, in countries such as the US and the Netherlands, the company operates under the T-Mobile brand. It was previously extant under that name in the UK before the company was merged and later sold as EE.
5 | Comcast
Philadelphia’s Comcast Corporation is not a competitor in mobile networks, instead providing internet, cable television and home phone connections. The business was founded by Ralph J. Roberts in 1963. The current CEO, Brian L Roberts is his son. Though a public company, the Roberts family’s preferred stock confers 33.3 percent of voting rights, giving them a large amount of control. Much of Comcast’s business is done through its Xfinity brand, which it adopted in 2010.
4 | Nippon Telegraph and Telephone
The Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT) has a history dating back to the aftermath of the second world war, where it was established by the Japanese government. Though privatised in 1985, the government continues to hold one third of the company’s shares. The services it offers in Japan include internet, fixed-line and mobile. NTT also has a global presence, having launched the London-based NTT Ltd. in 2019, which offers a wide range of technology services.
3 | China Mobile
China Mobile is a state-owned telecommunications giant. Based in Hong Kong, it provides its telecommunications network across both the special administrative region and the mainland. The company was created out of another company on this list, China Telecom. Aside from its dominance in the Chinese market, it has also expanded into Pakistan with its Zong brand and to the UK as a virtual operator targeting chinese students living in the country.
2 | Verizon Communications
One of the so-called “Baby Bells” spun off from the monopolous AT&T in 1983, Verizon was originally known as Bell Atlantic. In 1996, the company underwent a merger with NYNEX, a fellow Baby Bell covering the north-eastern United States, moving its headquarters to New York at the same time. Its current name was gained in the merger with GTE, which was historically the largest telephone provider outside of the Bell System. It says it provides wireless coverage to 98% of the United States.
1 | AT&T
The history of AT&T is, in many ways, the history of the entire telephone system in the United States, thanks to its precursor the Bell Telephone company. Established by Alexander Graham Bell’s father in law, the company evolved into the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, and controlled the Bell System of telephone services across the nation. Accused of being a monopoly, it was broken up in 1983 by the US government, creating many of AT&T’s current competitors. The current company was itself reformed out of Southwestern Bell, one of those spun off companies.