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Top 20 Largest Telecom Operators in World


China dominates the world of mobile telecommunications with the largest subscriber base. China Mobile is the world's largest mobile operator.

Here's a look at the top 20 mobile operators across the world...
1. China Mobile (China)
Subscribers: 627.63 million
(August 2011)
The Chinese state-owned telecommunication company is the most valuable mobile telecommunications company in the world.


It is listed on both the NYSE and the Hong Kong stock exchange. The world's largest mobile operator was founded in 1997. China Mobile controls 70 per cent of the market share.

2. SingTel (Singapore)Subscribers: 416 million
(August 2011)
SingTel has a combined mobile subscriber base of 416 million customers from its own operations and regional associates in 25 countries.

SingTel is also the largest company by market capitalisation listed on the Singapore Exchange and is majority owned by Temasek Holdings, the investment arm of the Singapore government.

. Vodafone (United Kingdom)
Subscribers: 381.72 million
(June 2011)
Vodafone Group is a global telecommunications company headquartered in London. It is the world's largest mobile telecommunications company measured by revenues and the world's second-largest in terms of subscribers.

It operates in over 30 countries and has partner networks in over 40 additional countries. 

4. America Movil (Mexico)
Subscribers: 236 million
(June 2011)
America Movil headquartered in Mexico City, Mexico has the fourth largest mobile network operator in terms of equity subscribers. One of the largest corporations in Latin America, it is a Fortune 500 company.

Owned by the world's richest man, Carlos Slim Helu, America Movil provides services in the Americas, primarily in Latin America and the Caribbean.

5. Telefonica (Spain)Subscribers: 227.32 million
(June 2011)
Telefonica is a Spanish broadband and telecommunications provider in Europe and Latin America. It is the largest fixed phone and ADSL operator in Spain.


6. Bharti Airtel (India)Subscribers: 227.04 million
(September 2011)
Bharti Airtel operates in 20 countries across South Asia, Africa and the Channel Islands. It operates a GSM network in all countries, providing 2G or 3G services depending upon the country of operation.

Airtel is the fifth largest telecom operator in the world with about 230.8 million subscribers across 19 countries at the end of June 2011.

It is the largest cellular service provider in India, with over 173.73 million subscribers at the end of October 2011
7. Orange (Orange France)
Subscribers: 217.3
(June 2011)
Orange is the key brand of France Telecom, one of the world's leading telecommunications operators.

Orange is one of the main European operators for mobile and broadband internet services under the brand Orange Business Services.

Subscribers: 203 million
(December 2010)
Telenor Group is mostly an international wireless carrier with operations in Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and Asia, under the Telenor brand.

Telenor started off in 1855 as Telegrafverket, a provider of telegraph services.
9. VimpelCom (Russia)
Subscribers: 193 million
(July 2011)
Founded in 1992, Beeline is the trademark of the Russian telecommunication operator, VimpelCom. In 1996, it became the first Russian company listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

10. China Unicom (China)
Subscribers: 169.7 million
(January 2011)
China Unicom or China United Netcom is a Chinese state-owned telecommunications operator. China Unicom was founded as a Government-owned corporation, established on July 19, 1994, by the Ministry of Information Industry and approved by the State Council.

In 2008, China Unicom sold its CDMA business and assets to China Telecom.

11.TeliaSonera (Sweden)
Subscribers: 160 million
(December 2010)
TeliaSonera is a major mobile network operator in Sweden and Finland. The company has operations in Northern, Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Spain.
12. Axiata Group Berhad (Malaysia)
Subscribers: 159.7 million
(December 2010)
Axiata Group Berhad is one of the leading telecommunication companies in Asia.

The company founded in 1992, has its primary business is in investment holding and offers telecommunication and consultancy services on an international scale.

13. Reliance Communications (India)
Subscribers: 144.78 million
(July 2011)
Reliance Communications is world's 13th largest mobile phone operator with over 144 million subscribers.

Established in 2004, as a subsidiary of the Reliance Group, the company has established a pan-India network.

14. Saudi Telecom Company (STC)
Subscribers: 139 million
(December 2010)
Saudi Telecom Group offers landline, mobile and Internet services to over 142 million subscribers in 10 markets including Saudi Arabia.

Headquartered in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Saudi Telecom Company (STC) is the largest telecommunications company by market capitalisation, total revenue and number of employees in the Arab region.
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15. MTN Group (South Africa)
Subscribers: 137.47 million
(September 2010)
MTN Group is a South Africa-based multinational mobile telecommunications company, operating in 21 countries across Africa and the Middle East region.

16. Etisalat (United Arab Emirates)
Subscribers: 135 million
(February 2010)
Headquartered in Abu Dhabi, Etisalat is the largest operator in the Middle East and Africa regions.

It is second highest rated telecom company globally on the Fitch rating scale and fourth highest on S&P and Moodys' rating.

Etisalat operates in 18 countries across Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
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Image: A general view of the building of Etisalat Telecommunications company in Dubai.
Photographs: Mosab Omar/Reuters.


17. T-Mobile (Germany)

Subscribers: 128 million
(June 2011)
T-Mobile International is a German-based holding company for Deutsche Telekom AG's mobile communications subsidiaries outside Germany.
Based in Bonn, Germany, its subsidiaries operate GSM and UMTS-based cellular networks in Europe, the United States, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

18. Verizon Wireless
Subscribers: 106.3 million
(Aug 2011)
Verizon Wireless, is one of the largest mobile network operators in the United States. The company is a joint venture of US telecommunications firm Verizon Communications and Vodafone.

In 2009, Verizon Wireless acquired Alltel Wireless in a deal valued at $28.1 billion.
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19. MTS (Russia)
Subscribers: 103.35 million
(Dec 2010)
Founded in 1993, MTS is the largest mobile operator in Russia and Commonwealth of Independent States(CIS).
In 2008, Vodafone announced a partnership deal with MTS, whereby Vodafone services would be available to MTS subscribers.

20. AT&T MobilitySubscribers: 100.7 million
AT&T Mobility is a wholly owned subsidiary of AT&T that provides wireless services to over 100 million subscribers in the United States, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

AT&T Mobility is the second largest wireless telecommunications provider in the United States after Verizon Wireless.