The MCA is hereby publishing the latest data for electronic and postal communications services for Q1 2019. These figures are available in the MCA publication entitled 'Data Report Sheet (DRS)', which provides data for the period Q1 2015 to Q1 2019 on several indicators concerning the postal and telecoms sectors.
The latest figures show that all electronic communications service segments gained new clients in the 12-month period ending March 2019, with the biggest year-on-year increase of 9,707 subscriptions reported for fixed broadband. The fixed telephony segment saw a year-on-year rise of 8,887 subscriptions, followed by mobile telephony at 8,409 subscriptions and pay-TV at 8,272 subscriptions.
This growth has been underscored by the continued rise in take-up of bundled subscriptions, typically encompassing dual play and triple play packages of fixed broadband, fixed telephony and pay-TV. Fixed broadband remains the most bundled product of all three, with 90.4% of all fixed broadband subscriptions at the end of March 2019 being purchased in a bundle. Only mobile telephony remains an outsider to this bundling trend, with just 10.1% of all subscriptions being purchased in a bundle.
Also of relevance is that whilst the year-on-year increase in subscriptions for fixed telephony was bigger than that for mobile telephony, fixed voice usage levels lost further ground to the mobile segment. Usage levels were also significantly up for mobile data, with local end-users consuming more megabytes both domestically and whilst travelling abroad.
As for the postal segment, the observed trends in the first quarter of 2019 were not surprising, Generally speaking, the sector continues to register a drop in mail volumes when it comes to those segments that are more susceptible to e-substitution, particularly single piece and bulk letter mail.
Further commentary with respect to developments for each electronic communication and postal segments is available below:
The fixed telephony segment was up by 8,887 (or by 3.6%) subscriptions year-on-year, from 245,828 subscriptions at the end of Q1 2018 to 254,715 subscriptions at the end of the current reporting period. The higher take-up of bundled packages of electronic communications services is likely to be the main factor behind the outcomes reported for the fixed telephony service. Of note is that almost 77% of all fixed telephony subscriptions reported at the end of March 2019 were purchased in a bundle.
The mobile telephony subscriber base grew by 8,409 subscriptions year-on-year to reach a total of 614,781 by the end of March 2019. During this period, the number of post-paid subscriptions was up by 17,172 (or by 8.1%) whilst the number pre-paid subscriptions was down by 8,763 (or by 2.2%). Over the years, post-paid plans have increasingly become more popular with consumers as a result of the bigger voice and data allowances offered by local service providers.
Mobile data consumption maintained its upward trajectory, both as a result of a bigger pool of people using these services and improved rates particularly for data offered with post-paid plans. In fact, domestic mobile data usage was up from 1,325 million MBs in Q1 2018 to 2,003.0 million MBs in Q1 2019. The further declines in roaming charges that came into force in 2018 also contributed to the rise in data volumes consumed by local end-users whilst roaming, from 66.9 million MBs to 111.1 million MBs.
Fixed broadband subscriptions were up by 9,707 year-on-year to reach a total of 193,477 at the end of March 2019. This increase is characterised by a rise in subscriptions getting connections supporting ultra-fast download speeds, i.e. connections with download speeds equal to or exceeding 100Mbps. Year-on-year, the number of subscriptions supporting downloads speeds of '100Mbps or higher' was up by 28,596 (up by 65.9%), from 43,370 connections at the end of March 2018 to 71,966 at the end of March 2019. Also underscoring the rise in fixed broadband subscriptions, is the reported surge in take-up of this service in a bundle package. The reported figures show that all new clients and a significant amount of existing ones formerly on stand-alone plans opted for this kind of subscription.
The subscriber base of the pay-TV sector expanded by 8,272 new clients over a 12-month period, from 158,291 at the end of Q1 2018 to 166,563 at the end of March 2019. End-users have shown greater interest in pay-TV plans that offer non-linear programming services such as Melita's digital cable and GO's IPTV services, which are also typically offered in bundle packages.
The number of digital cable subscriptions was up 9,918 subscriptions (or by 11.4%) year-on-year, whilst the number of IPTV subscriptions was up by 9,411 subscriptions (or by 23.7%). Conversely, GO's DTTV subscriptions was down by 10,079 (or by 33.3%). Also, by Q4 2018 Melita phased out its analogue pay-TV service and, as a result, no analogue subscribers were recorded in Q1 2019.
Meanwhile, 73.5% of all pay-TV subscriptions at the end of March 2019 were bundled with other services, up from 67.5% a year earlier. Of note is that the launch of the Total Sports Network (TSN) and the continued bundling trends taking place in the pay-TV sector contributed to positive developments with respect to the take-up of this service.
Postal mail volumes were down by 7.7% in Q1 2019 when compared to volumes recorded in Q1 2018. This decline is attributed to the single piece letter mail and bulk letter mail segments. When comparing Q1 2019 with Q1 2018, volumes in the case of the former were down by 1.3% and down by 8.2% in the case of the latter. Despite these drops, these two letter mail segments account for the biggest share of total postal mail volumes, with a combined market share of 92.6% in the first three months of 2019.
Turning our attention towards registered and parcel mail, figures show that registered mail was up 10.0% during this 12-month period whilst parcel mail volumes was down by 56.5%. The large drop in parcel mail volumes is attributed to a single operator reporting a substantial volume of parcel mail items in Q1 2018 thus greatly influencing the total volumes reported during this quarter.
Leased line are a high-quality, dedicated, point-to-point data transmission connections used by businesses and providers of communications services. As at end Q1 2019, a total of 484 leased line connections were recorded, down by 50 connections (or 9.5%) year-on-year.
All the figures referred to in this article are available on the following link.
- Data cut-off date: 24th July 2019;
- Data is preliminary and subject to change