2017: MCA Consumer Perceptions Survey – Fixed broadband

Published: April 2018

MCA Consumer Perceptions Survey - Fixed Broadband

A brief overview of findings for a perception survey carried out in the period November to December 2017.

Main survey findings

The MCA is hereby publishing the findings of a survey gauging consumer perceptions based on their experience of fixed broadband services offered in Malta. The variables assessed include the level of satisfaction with the products and services being purchased, the sensitivities to price changes and switching providers, and the overall experience with customer care related to faults.

The survey, which was limited to residential users, was carried out by Grant Thornton via telephone interviews. A total of 903 randomly selected respondents participated in this survey.

The survey explored the quality of fixed broadband connection and the overall experience with OTT-based services accessed via fixed broadband. Survey questions also focused on the features sought when purchasing a fixed broadband connection, the tendency of end-users to test download speeds and the addition of over-the-top (OTT) services over a fixed broadband connection.

-    Proportion of households with fixed broadband access on the rise

According to the survey results, a total of 94% of household respondents claim to have access to fixed broadband at their place of residence. This represents a 17 percentage point increase over the 2015 survey.

Just 6% of household respondents say that they do not have access to fixed broadband, as the service is unnecessary or ‘too complicated to use’. Moreover, the majority of respondents not having a fixed broadband connection stated that they would not be purchasing a connection over the next 6 month period.

-    Price is a key factor determining consumer choice

37% of respondents stated that price was their primary concern when purchasing a fixed broadband service followed by internet download speed at 32%.

22% of household respondents also say that the availability of fixed broadband in a bundle was important in their purchase choice

-    Knowledge of headline download speed remains low

Despite download speed ranking 2nd in priority as a factor influencing type of fixed broadband purchase, only 28% of respondents with a fixed broadband connection are aware of the headline download speed supported by their connection. A lack of awareness of headline download speeds has been observed consistently even in surveys carried out in 2013 and 2015. Nevertheless, the 2017 figure concerning headline download speed awareness represents an improvement, up from 19% in 2013.

-    More households with fast and ultra-fast download speeds

Fast download speeds correspond to fixed broadband connections supporting a download speed of between 30Mbps but less than 100Mbps whilst ultra-fast download speeds correspond to those connections supporting download speed of 100Mbps or more.

Compared to 2015, the 2017 survey findings show a big rise in the proportion of households owning fast and ultra-fast broadband connections. In the former case, a 23 percentage point increase has been registered, whilst in the latter case an 18 percentage point increase was recorded.

-    A big proportion of household respondents do not recall their applicable monthly access fee

46% of household respondents were unable to identify their monthly expenditure on their fixed broadband service. The main reason for this lack of knowledge stems from the fact that generally respondents purchase their fixed broadband service in a bundle, which makes it difficult to identify the monthly financial outlay per service in a bundle.

Two out of every three respondents say they know what their financial outlay on fixed broadband is. 70% of these report a monthly expenditure in the range of €20 to €50. Moreover, 47% of respondents knowledgeable of their monthly expenditure on fixed broadband say that the service they were getting was expensive.

-     Not many households test their actual download speeds

Household respondents were generally unaware that they could test their download speeds via online applications. Also, just 18% of respondents with a fixed broadband connection say they have actually carried out a test to determine whether they were actually getting the advertised download speed.

A further assessment of survey findings in this respect shows that almost 60% of those who actually carried out these tests found that their actual speed test was lower than the one advertised by their service provider.

-    A highly satisfied customer base

Respondents also relay a message that they are generally satisfied with the service being provided by their operator. Indeed, 53% of respondents say they are satisfied with their fixed broadband service and an additional 28% say they are highly satisfied. Overall, this represents an improvement of 2 percentage points on the number of satisfied households when compared with 2015.

Just 3% of respondents in 2017 say they were dissatisfied with the service being offered. The remaining 16% of respondents were indifferent as to the quality of the service they were purchasing.

-    An increase in reported faults but service providers offering proper remedial action

47% of respondents claim to have reported at least one fault with their fixed broadband connection in the span of 12 months, an increase of 12 percentage points when compared to the corresponding 2015 survey finding.

Nevertheless, 69% of respondents that encountered faults throughout this period feel that their reported fault was addressed in a satisfactory manner and were satisfied with how their service provider handled the matter.

Background to the survey function at the MCA

The MCA has been regularly carrying out the Consumer Perception Surveys on a two-yearly interval since 2008. The main purpose behind this exercise is to gather information on the level of satisfaction of local consumers with the products and services offered by electronic communication service providers and the extent to which these providers are able to address the demands of their clients. Given that these surveys have been carried out regularly for a number of years, survey results are indicative of how the needs of end-users have developed over time and how local service providers are dealing with changing demand over the years.

The results of these surveys also serve as an additional source of information for the MCA’s regulatory decisions, in order to ensure an environment that is conducive to sustainable competition and investment in view of the growing demands of the future.

Methodology and Fieldwork

The methodology used in the latest round of consumer surveys, including the sampling, questionnaire design, fieldwork and weighting processes followed similar approaches to previous surveys. The research methodology involved the use of telephone computer-assisted interviewing (CATI).

Consumers sampled were stratified according to the age composition of the Maltese population. Moreover, the interviews were distributed among Malta’s six official geographic regions and carried out across different socio economic categories of the Maltese population.

For a more comprehensive picture, a presentation encompassing the main survey findings is available on the MCA website via this link.

View Press Release in Maltese

View Survey Results