The MCA is hereby publishing the latest data for electronic and postal communications services for the second quarter (Q2) of 2019. These figures are available in the MCA publication entitled 'Data Report Sheet (DRS)', which provides data for the period Q1 2015 to Q2 2019 on several indicators concerning the postal and telecoms sectors.
The MCA observes a rise in subscriptions for all electronic communications services offered in Malta in the 12-month period to June 2019. In relative terms, fixed broadband accounted for a 3.9% year-on-year growth in the client base, followed closely by pay-TV at 3.7%, fixed line telephony at 3.4% and mobile telephony at 2.3%. In absolute terms, the ranking changes with mobile telephony at the top spot, with almost 14,000 new subscriptions registered in the 12-month period to June 2019, followed by fixed line telephony recording 8,379 new subscriptions, fixed broadband recording 7,329 new subscriptions and finally pay-TV seeing around 6,000 new subscribers during the same period.
Also in line with long-term market trends, bundled subscriptions continue to grow in popularity. Fixed broadband consolidated its position as the most bundled service, with 91.8% of all subscriptions at the end of June 2019 purchased in a bundle, up from 86.4% a year earlier. Meanwhile, 77.4% of all fixed telephony subscriptions and 74.7% of all pay-TV subscriptions were purchased in a bundle at the end of the current reporting period. On the other hand, the mobile telephony service distinguishes itself with the very low rate of take-up in a bundle at just 10.1% of all subscriptions.
The following sections in this report summarise information that is released in the DRS for the second quarter (Q2) 2019. The areas of interest are mobile telephony, fixed broadband, pay-TV and fixed telephony, alongside a brief insight as to the take-up of high quality data connectivity services, which are availed of by a restricted number of businesses located in Malta.
There were around 195,000 fixed broadband subscriptions at the end of June 2019, representing an increase of 7,329 subscriptions year-on-year. Also during this period, more end-users opted for products and packages supporting fast and ultra-fast fixed download speeds. Of note is that 40% of all subscriptions at the end of the current reporting period had a connection speed supporting a download speed of 100Mbps or more, up by almost 13 percentage points year-on-year. Another 39% of the subscriber base had a connection supporting a headline download speed in the range of 50Mbps but less than 100Mbps. This trend materialised in tandem with the increased take-up of bundles, with the share of subscribers purchasing fixed broadband in a bundle rising from 86.4% at the end of June 2018 to 91.5% at the end of June 2019. Whilst these trends are somewhat a positive development, the resulting market outcomes has to be seen in the context of operators diluting the stand-alone line-up, whilst not offering the ultra-fast headline download speeds with the stand-alone packages.
The number of fixed telephony subscriptions was up by 8,379 (or by 3.4%) year-on-year to 256,799 at the end of June 2019. The increase in subscriptions did not however translate in bigger traffic for this segment. In fact, total volume of fixed voice calls and fixed voice call minutes was down in the first half of 2019 when compared to the same period a year earlier, by 9.4% and 9.5% respectively. This is because people are using their mobiles more for voice calling purposes. Losses in revenues from fixed voice services were bigger than the gains from access fees for the service, which explains why fixed telephony ARPU in the first half of 2019 was lower than in the first half of 2018.
The subscriber base for mobile telephony expanded by 13,897 subscribers year-on-year to reach a total of 629,320 by the end of June 2019. During the current reporting period, post-paid plans were up by 18,399 (or by 8.5%) whilst pre-paid plans were down by 4,502 (or by 1.1%). Voice traffic volumes for mobile and mobile broadband data consumption maintained their upward trajectory. In fact, comparing volumes in the first half of 2019 to volumes in the first half of 2018, the number of outgoing mobile voice calls and mobile voice call minutes was up by 7.2% and 9.2% respectively. Mobile data consumption was also up substantially for this comparative period, as the number of units of MB consumed has increased substantially from 2.8 million to 5.0 million.
The greater take-up of post-paid plans contributed significantly to the observed rise in mobile voice and data consumption, given the increasing prevalence of improved voice and data allowances with these plans. Meanwhile, SMS volumes declined further, from 139.7 million in the first half of 2018 to 119.8 million in the first half of 2019, most likely because end-users are increasingly using internet based Instant Messaging (IM) services like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.
Subscription numbers for the pay-TV service were up by 5,936 in the 12-month period to June 2019, to reach a total of 167,633. This increase in subscriptions materialised at a time of bigger take-up of triple-play bundle packages including the pay-TV service alongside fixed broadband and fixed telephony. Of note is that the rate of pay-TV subscriptions purchased in a bundle has risen further from 69% at the end of June 2018 to almost 75% at the end of June 2019.
Looking at subscription figures by technology platforms, digital cable subscriptions was up by 6,681 subscriptions (or by 7.3%) by the end of the current reporting period up from 91,832 subscriptions at the end of June 2018. Subscriptions for GO's IPTV platform was also up during this reporting period by 7,769 subscriptions (or by 18.2%). Conversely, DTTV subscriptions were down by 8,499 (or by 31.2%). As of Q4 2018 Melita phased out its analogue pay-TV service and, as a result, no analogue subscribers were recorded in Q2 2019.
Postal mail volumes have been steadily in decline as a result of reduced activity in certain postal areas. In the first half of 2019 postal mail volumes stood at 18.2 million postal mail items down by 3.1% from 18.9 million postal mail items a year earlier.
During this period, all mail types in terms of volumes were down except for registered mail. Letter post items was down 157,349 mail items (or by 2.4%) whilst bulk mail and parcel mail items were down by 216,979 mail items (or by 2.0%) and 225,253 mail items (or by 32.1%) respectively. Meanwhile, registered mail items were up by 9,442 mail items (or by 1.1%).
Leased lines are a high-quality, dedicated, point-to-point data transmission connections used by businesses operating in Malta, such as banks, gaming companies etc. Only a few businesses use these services, hence the small number of retail clients being reported by local service providers in this segment. As at end the end of June 2019, a total of 383 high-quality connections were recorded, down by 105 connections (or 21.5%) year-on-year.
All the figures referred to in this article are available on the following link.
- Data cut-off date: 15th October 2019;
- Data is preliminary and subject to change.