The MCA is hereby outlining the latest developments for electronic and postal communications services in Malta, in view of the latest available data submitted by local service providers. This press release is based on figures presented in the MCA publication entitled 'Data Report Sheet (DRS)', covering the period Q1 2015 to Q3 2019.
The electronic communications sector has been characterised by a continued rise in subscriber numbers across all segments of communication. The mobile telephony segment saw the biggest rise in subscriber its subscriber base in absolute terms. The mobile telephony sector was up by 13,024 subscriptions (or by 2.1%) over a 12-month period ending September 2019. During the same period, the number of fixed broadband subscriptions was up by over 8,525 subscriptions (or by 4.5%), followed by fixed telephony at 6,627 subscriptions (or by 2.6%). The number of pay-TV subscriptions was up by 4,865 (or by 3.0%). The overall jump in subscriptions is underscored by the continued gain in popularity amongst end-users for bundle packages, typically encompassing fixed telephony, fixed broadband and pay-TV in dual and triple-play packages.
The continued uptake of bundle products comes as no surprise seeing that consumers value the discounts on monthly access fees that are typically offered by service providers for such products compared to stand-alone alternatives. The fixed broadband service continued to consolidate its standing as the most bundled service, with 91.2% of subscriptions reported in a bundle by the end of September 2019 up from 87.2% a year earlier. This is followed by take-up of fixed telephony and pay-TV in a bundle, at 78% and 76% respectively. Mobile telephony remains the least bundled service, with only 10.0% of subscriptions reported in a bundle by local mobile operators.
Other information for each segment of electronic communications and post is provided below.
The rise in fixed broadband subscriptions comes on the back of more end-users purchasing products supporting ultra-fast speeds, that are typically offered in a bundle package. By the end of the current reporting period, 43% of fixed broadband connections supported download speeds equal to or above 100Mbps. This corresponds to a year-on-year jump of around 12.5 percentage points. Meanwhile, the number of subscriptions supporting download speeds that are less than 100Mbps was down. For example, the number of subscriptions supporting a download speed ranging between 50Mbps but less than 100Mbps was down by 3.8 percentage points, from 42.8% to 39.0%.
These developments have to be seen in the context of local service providers diluting their stand-alone line-up as well as their continued effort to promote ultra-fast products in a bundle setting. Also, the rise in take-up for ultra-fast products entails higher access fees which explain why the Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) for fixed broadband was up from €58.89 in Q3 2018 to €60.65 in Q3 2019.
95% of all fixed telephony subscriptions recorded at the end of September 2019 were on a post-paid contract term. Despite the fact that most post-paid plans feature call minute allowances, fixed voice usage was down in the first nine months of 2019 compared to the same period a year earlier. The number of fixed telephony voice calls was down by 13% whilst the number of fixed telephony voice call minutes was down by 14.5%. The continued decline in fixed voice telephony usage is mainly a result of the increased mobility away from home and the rising dependence on the mobile telephony service.
More end-users are opting to post-paid mobile telephony subscriptions in order to benefit from the additional monthly allowances that come with these products. However, the pre-paid segment still accounted for 62.5% of subscriptions by the end of last September.
Local service providers recorded significantly higher voice traffic volumes in the first nine months of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018. The number of outgoing mobile voice calls was up by 6.5%, whilst the number of voice call traffic minutes was up by 9.0%. Data volumes during the same period of 2019 almost doubled compared to volumes recorded in the same period a year earlier, to a total of 8,472 million MBs.
On the other hand, SMS usage was down by 19.1%, from 70.7 million to 57.3 million.
The results observed for the pay-TV segment reflect the continued push of local operators to boost take-up of the latest offers that are available over the IPTV and digital cable platforms. The number of subscriptions on Melita's digital cable platform was up by 6,080 (or 6.5%) year-on-year, whilst the number of subscriptions on GO's IPTV platform was up by 6,658 (or by 14.7%). Melita no longer offers services over the analogue platform whilst GO has intensified its efforts to eventually switch-off its DTTV platform.
In line with long term expectations, postal mail volumes were down by 3.0% in the first nine months of 2019 when compared to the corresponding period a year earlier. This change is mainly attributed to developments in the bulk mail segment, where the number of delivered mail items was down by more than 780,000 units (or by 4.9%). The most obvious factor impacting on postal mail volumes is the ever increasing use electronic communications and services.
Leased lines are a high-quality, dedicated, point-to-point data transmission connections used by businesses operating in Malta, such as banks, gaming companies and government entities. Only a limited number of end-users use these services, hence the small number of retail clients being reported by local service providers in this segment, at 382 by the end Q3 2019, further down by 115 connections (or by 23.1%) year-on-year.
All the figures referred to in this article are available below.
- Data cut-off date: 3rd January 2020;
- Data is preliminary and subject to change.