As part of an ongoing series of publications designed to outline developments concerning electronic communications and post in Malta, the MCA has today published the Communications Market Review (CMR) covering the period 2014 to 2017, but with particular emphasis on the second half of last year.
An expanding customer base, changing consumer preferences and price competition underlie the main developments in electronic communications for the latter half of 2017. The pricing indicators outlined in the CMR also suggest stronger competition on prices. Particularly in the case of fixed broadband and mobile services, the findings pinpoint to better value for money, although developments in consumer choice did not mirror such a positive outcome.
Postal activity followed historical trends, with volumes in the second half of 2017 being lower than recorded in the same period a year earlier. On a more positive note, postal volumes related to cross border activity were on the rise, but not sufficiently as to off-set declines recorded elsewhere.
The operating environment was particularly upbeat in the fixed broadband segment, as the subscriber base grew by 6% in the 12-month period to December 2017. This reflects higher take-up of fast and ultra-fast connections, with around 83% of all subscriptions at the end of 2017 availing of these speeds. Higher download speeds led to a dip in the average rate per Mbps in the current review period.
Mobile-driven growth came on the back of a bigger client base and stronger demand for voice and data services. Year-on-year, the number of subscriptions was up by around 19,000. This pushed up the mobile penetration rate to 128.5% at the end of 2017. A surge in voice minute and data volumes per mobile telephony user was observed, aided by the bigger voice and data allowances.
Almost 6,000 new subscriptions were added to the local fixed telephony client base in the 12-month period to the end of 2017. The post-paid segment was the main driver behind this growth. Significantly, 68.4% of all post-paid fixed telephony subscriptions recorded at the end of 2017 where purchased in a bundle, up from almost 63.1% a year earlier. Fixed voice usage levels were down in the second half of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016, as a result of fixed-to-mobile substitution.
Around 8,000 new pay-TV subscriptions were added in 2017 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 10,000 and in the latter case by around 13,000. 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 second half of 2017 were down by 0.3% when compared to the same period a year earlier. This was mainly a result of declining letter mail volumes that were not offset by volume gains recorded in the other postal mail streams.
All the figures referred to in this article and more detailed information are available on the following link.
Note: Data cut-off date: 18th May 2018.