JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, February 3 /PRNewswire/ --

- 'Managing the Evolution of Grey Market Handsets in Africa' is Free to Download at

WDSGlobal has published a report that suggests grey-market mobile phone ownership will present an increasing challenge for African mobile operators in 2009, despite a global drop in their circulation.

The report states that while reduced import taxes and component costs have moderated demand for low-cost grey-market handsets across the continent, African consumers are showing increased demand for high-end feature phones. Such devices often can't be accurately identified, supported or configured to access data services on an operator's network. This immediately threatens subscriber profitability concludes WDSGlobal, a global leader in mobile device management and knowledge and support services for the mobile industry.

Grey-market handsets are defined as those sold through unofficial and unauthorized channels, explains Brett Thomas, Regional General Manager, Africa, at WDSGlobal. The demand for high-end feature phones on the grey market is being fuelled by substantial savings of up to 50 per cent and a desire to own a handset not available locally. Many are sourced from Europe and North America and sold through high street retailers, markets and online retailers.

The report cites four key areas of concern:

1) Support calls may not be resolved effectively, either because of internal policy or because the operator does not have the knowledge to resolve a problem.

2) Grey-market handsets may not be correctly configured for high-margin data services such as mobile Internet. These handsets are typically limited to basic voice and messaging services.

3) A parity of service is hard to achieve across the installed base of subscribers. Grey market handsets may not feature an operator's branded firmware or bundled applications.

4) An operator may not detect a grey-market handset attaching to its network or a subscriber making a handset switch. This can lead to incorrect CRM data.

Each of these areas can have a negative effect not just on profitability but also loyalty, suggesting that mobile operators need to build strategies and implement processes that allow them to cost effectively manage grey-market handsets on their network.

The way in which consumers acquire and share handsets is changing and mobile operators must decide where their support for the end-user finishes, the report warns. The grey-market for mobile phones is prevalent across Africa and many parts of Asia. In some countries up to a quarter of all mobile users own grey-market handsets. Many handsets enter the grey market from overseas recycling schemes or distributors looking to offload unsold stock.

Download the report for free at

About WDSGlobal

Since 1995, WDSGlobal has been dedicated to helping mobile operators, handset manufacturers and service providers deliver more profitable products and services to end-users. The company is based in the UK, with offices in the United States, South Africa, Singapore and Australia.

For more information, please contact: Tim Deluca-Smith, VP Marketing, Tel: +44(0)1202713725,