Why the global telecoms dream turned sour

Rapid expansion of mobile networks fuelled hopes of empires, but now the industry is consolidating

LONDON • Just nine years ago, Telia was on top of the world. The Swedish company had launched 3G services on Mount Everest by installing a base station at an altitude of 5,200m, laying claim to being the world's highest telecommunications network.

As it turned out, that moment - part engineering feat and part corporate bravado - proved to be the apex of a two-decade race by the European telecoms industry to plant a flag in every corner of the planet. The land grab was fierce, with incumbent operators battling a new breed of aggressive mobile-only players led by Vodafone that were willing to spend record sums to push into new markets.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 02, 2020, with the headline 'Why the global telecoms dream turned sour'. Subscribe