MCA Consumer Perceptions Survey – Mobile telephony
Main survey findings
The MCA is hereby publishing the findings of a survey gauging consumer perceptions based on their experience in using mobile telephony services offered in Malta. Key themes relate to the level of satisfaction with the service, consumer sensitivities to price changes and propensity to switch. Survey findings also cover the overall experience with customer care and the propensity of residential end-users to use over-the-top (OTT) services over mobile.
The survey was carried out by EMCS on behalf of the MCA via telephone interviews. A total of 963 randomly selected respondents participated in this survey.
Increasing share of post-paid subscriptions
Just 3% of survey respondents report not having a mobile subscription, with most of these aged over 65. These claimed they found no need for a mobile connection and/or considered that using a mobile handset was too complicated.
Comparing survey findings for the years 2015 and 2017, take-up of post-paid subscriptions for residential end-users was up by 13 percentage points to 35% of the subscriber base. However, 61% of survey respondents with a mobile subscription reported having a pre-paid subscription and the remaining 4% reported a hybrid subscription.
More smartphones in use
66% of survey respondents with a mobile subscription reported having a smartphone. Notwithstanding a growing preference for smartphones, around half of survey respondents with a standard mobile handset say they would not switch to a smartphone as they perceive such devices as being too complicated to use and that their standard handset was sufficient for their mobile telephony activities. Half of the respondents making these statements were over 65 years of age.
A good customer care service and value for money a priority for end-users
54% of survey respondents identify a good customer care service as an essential factor when selecting their service provider. A third of survey respondents say that their choice of service provider depends on the perceived value for money and the choices made by family and friends.
Pre-paid subscribers more knowledgeable on expenditure than post-paid subscribers
End-users on pre-paid plans were far more likely to know their monthly expenditure than those subscribed to post-paid plans. Indeed, only 6% of survey respondents with a pre-paid subscription were unable to identify their monthly expenditure, with the share rising to 24% in the case of respondents with a post-paid subscription.
Meanwhile, post-paid respondents knowledgeable on their monthly expenditure reported a higher financial outlay than pre-paid respondents. 83% of respondents on a pre-paid plan reported an average monthly financial outlay of less than €20.00 per month. Just 29% of respondents on a post-paid plan reported a similar outlay, whilst 47% reported paying over €20.00 per month for their mobile services.
Rising popularity of mobile data and free Wi-Fi hotspots
Over 55% of respondents with a mobile subscription reported usage of mobile data services, with a substantial chunk of these respondents saying they use these services on a daily basis.
Around half of those reporting an active usage of mobile data say they manage such usage by accessing free public Wi-Fi zones.
A highly satisfied customer base and low switching
91% of survey respondents with a mobile subscription reported being satisfied with their service. A further 7% reported being indifferent on this aspect and the remaining 2% felt dissatisfied with the service.
Of those reporting dissatisfaction with the current service, just a third say they would be willing to switch service provider. The rest say they would not switch for a number of reasons, namely (i) a perception that the switching process is inconvenient; (ii) a subscription that forms part of a bundle; and (iii) a perception that all service providers offer similar services.
Notable usage of OTT services over the mobile phone
Half of survey respondents with a mobile subscription report OTT-based activities over their mobile phone. 82% of respondents making use of OTT services say they carry out OTT-based activities on a daily basis, with almost all of these saying they consider OTT-based messaging services such as Whatsapp and Messenger as substitutable to traditional SMS services.
Background to the survey function at the MCA
The MCA has been carrying out the Consumer Perception Surveys on a two-yearly interval since 2008. The aim is to gather information on the level of consumer satisfaction with the products and services on offer and the extent to which service providers address the demands of their clients. Given that these surveys have been carried out for a number of years, survey findings are indicative of developments in end-user needs and how local service providers deal with changing preferences.
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.