As part of an ongoing series of publications designed to pinpoint developments in electronic communications and post for Malta, the MCA has today published the Data Report Sheet (DRS) with the latest figures covering the period Q1 2014 to Q2 2018.
The electronic communications subscriber base expanded rapidly during the first half of 2018 and exhibited further changes in consumption trends. In the case of mobile telephony and fixed broadband, end-users continued to exhibit a relentless appetite for accessing the Internet. Also, the bundle option consolidated its position as the mainstream choice of end-users, given changing preferences and a dilution in the stand-alone line-up. As for traditional voice services, fixed-to-mobile substitution persists unabated, with fixed telephony losing more ground when it comes to usage levels as opposed to the surge observed for mobile.
Meanwhile, developments in postal activity went against the historical downward trend. In fact, traffic volumes in the first half of 2018 were stronger than recorded in the first half of 2017.
Around 8,000 new subscriptions were added to the fixed telephony subscriber base in the first six months of this year, with the post-paid segment driving growth. In fact, the number of post-paid subscriptions was up by 8,645 in this period, whilst the number of pre-paid subscriptions was down by 486. Significantly, 74% of all post-paid fixed telephony subscriptions recorded at the end of June 2018 where purchased in a bundle, up from almost 73% six months earlier.
Fixed voice minute traffic volumes in the first half of 2018 were down by 6.3% when compared to the same period a year earlier, as a result of fixed-to-mobile substitution. The rise in subscriptions combined with dwindling traffic volumes translated into a decline in fixed telephony ARPU.
Around 6,700 new subscriptions were added to the fixed broadband subscriber base in the first six months of 2018. This growth has been marked by rising demand for fast and ultra-fast download speeds. In fact, the proportion of subscriptions getting these 'headline' speeds was up from 82.7% at the end of 2017 to 87.4% at the end of last June. The continued rise in fast and ultra-fast fixed broadband subscriptions contributed to a rise in fixed broadband ARPU.
Upward trends in mobile voice minute volumes are a result of a growing subscriber base, changing consumer preferences and more competitively priced plans. Voice minute volumes in the first half of 2018 were up by 7.3% when compared to the same period a year earlier. Evidently, the 10,500 new subscribers recorded in the first half of 2018 contributed to this spike. Meanwhile, the proportion of end-users on post-paid plans consolidated during this period, on the back of bigger voice and data allowances available with such plans.
The first six months of 2018 saw around 6,000 new subscriptions being added to the client base of local service providers. Rising take-up of plans on IPTV and digital cable mainly contributed to this change, with the number of subscriptions in the former case going up by around 7,000 and in the latter case by around 7,400. The rising take-up of pay-TV in a bundle has contributed to a fall in pay-TV ARPU, given that bundle plans typically allow for discounted access fees.
Postal mail volumes in the first half of 2018 were up by 1.1% when compared to the same period a year earlier. This was mainly a result of more buoyant inbound cross border mail volumes and parcel mail volumes.
All the figures referred to in this article are available on the following link.
Data cut-off date: 17th September 2018; (ii) Data is preliminary and subject to change.