How can the Malta Communications Authority (MCA) help?
The extent of the action the MCA can take in relation to your complaint, depends on the particular nature of your complaint and the MCA's relevant legal powers. If the complaint involves issues that are regulated under a law the MCA has the power to enforce, then the MCA can intervene. In instances where the MCA cannot intervene directly, the MCA will suggest alternative courses of action by referring you to the appropriate forum.
How can I make an enquiry with the MCA?
To submit an enquiry on any of the sectors regulated by MCA, you may use the MCA enquiry form
What are the steps to take when lodging a complaint with the service provider?
- Where possible, lodge a complaint in writing, explaining your problem clearly and specifying how you expect the service provider to resolve your complaint.
- State your name and relevant contact details.
- Support your case with copies of any relevant documentation. Remember you should always retain the original copies of any correspondence or official documentation such as contracts and bills.
- Identify the service provider’s representative/s you are dealing with, including date and time of your interactions.
- Always keep a copy of any written communications you have exchanged with the service provider.
- Ask for action within a specific and reasonable period.
When should I file a complaint with the MCA?
We may be able to help you if you still remain unsatisfied with the response and/or solution offered by your service provider, after having gone through your service provider’s complaint-handling procedures. We can then provide you with all the relevant information on the matter, so that you will have a better understanding of what the service provider’s obligations are, what your rights are and the possible courses of action available to you.
What information should I provide to the MCA when filing a complaint?
In many instances the following information will assist the MCA in addressing your complaint efficiently:
- A copy of your service contract;
- Copies of any correspondence with your service provider that relate to your complaint;
- Copies of bills, if and when applicable;
- Any other relevant documentation, such as: service termination form; direct debit application form; number portability form.
What action can the MCA take to address a complaint?
Following due investigation, and subject to the MCA’s powers at law, if the Authority considers that the service provider has not effectively addressed the complaint, it will direct the service provider on how to effectively address the matter.
What is the MCA’s complaint handling procedure?
If, after exhausting your service provider’s complaint-handling procedures you still feel that your complaint was not adequately addressed, we may be able to help you.
The Authority requires that, whenever possible, a [complaint form] is completed and submitted to the MCA, online or by post. Following receipt of your written complaint, we will:
- Acknowledge your complaint within 2 working days;
- Check that you have provided all the relevant details;
- Endeavour to give you a full reply within 20 working days;
- Ensure that you have already approached your service provider to resolve the matter;
- Investigate the complaint, which may involve further communication with you and/or the service provider;
- Make any information relating to your case accessible to all parties involved, unless there is a specific and valid request by either you or the service provider.
Can an end-user claim compensation?
The Authority may only require a service provider to give compensation to a customer, in line with the service provider’s compensation schemes, if the quality of service levels agreed upon in the contract for the provision of your service, are not met. The above is not applicable in cases of force majeure. Service providers may, of course, voluntarily agree to offer compensation other than in the instances mentioned above, however this is at their discretion.
This does not mean that you cannot seek compensation before other bodies. In most instances, if you believe that you have been provided a service which is not satisfactory and that you are entitled to compensation, then as a consumer you may file a claim before the Consumer Claims Tribunal. This Tribunal is empowered to determine disputes between customers and traders.
For further information you can contact the Consumer Claims Tribunal's secretariat at 4, Old Mint Street, Valletta CMR 02. You can also phone on 21 239 892. Their office hours are between 0900hrs and 1230hrs.
If you own a business concern, then you have recourse to the Small Claims Tribunal. The Small Claims Tribunal is located at the Courts of Justice, Republic Street, Valletta. Their telephone numbers are 2590 2601 or 2590 2242 and their office hours are between 0900hrs and 1500hrs.
What is international roaming?
International roaming is a service offered by mobile operators that allows you to use your mobile phone or other mobile device, for example, internet key/stick, when abroad. Since your mobile operator does not provide its services outside Malta, it has agreements with foreign operators allowing you to make and receive voice calls, send and receive SMSs, and use other services such as voicemail and data services.
What should I do before travelling?
Before travelling abroad it is very important that you contact your mobile operator and check the following points:
- Whether your subscription allows international roaming in the destination country;
- How much you will be charged when using your phone in the destination country, including voice calls, SMS, MMS, access the Internet and use of voicemail;
- Which foreign operator network best fits your needs and offers the cheapest roaming rates, if applicable;
- How to choose manually your preferred foreign operator network whilst abroad, if possible; and
- How to activate and make use of other important services (voicemail, call diverts, network selection) while roaming and the charges involved.
Moreover, we suggest you take note of:
- Your mobile handset serial number (IMEI number) generally located underneath the battery of your mobile phone, it can also be retrieved by pressing *#06# on your handset; and
- Your mobile operator customer care number.
The above are needed, in case your phone is lost or stolen while you are travelling.
What charges do I incur when I use my mobile phone or other mobile device abroad?
The charges that apply to roaming calls are different from those that apply when making calls while in Malta, because the foreign operator charges your mobile operator for using its network while you are abroad, and your operator consequently charges you this additional cost.
You will be charged for:
- Making and Receiving voice calls to and from Malta, and to and from someone in the destination country or any other country;
- Sending an SMS to Malta, someone in the destination country or any other country;
- Using Data services, for example, downloading emails, photos, music or movies, browsing the Internet and sending and receiving MMS;
- Listening to your voicemail messages: you will be charged at the same rate as when you make a call to Malta from abroad. To avoid this cost, you could choose to hear the messages only when in Malta;
- To divert/forward your calls and voicemail messages to another mobile or voicemail inbox which is not in a roaming package.
You will NOT be charged for:
- Receiving an SMS; and
- Receiving voicemail messages: you will not be charged when someone leaves you a voicemail message in your inbox whilst you are roaming in one of the 28 EU Member States.
Note: When travelling in non-EU countries this rule does not apply. Therefore, we suggest you check with your mobile operator how much you will be charged when someone leaves you a voicemail message in your inbox when you are in a non-EU country, and how you can avoid such charges, for example, by disabling the voice mail before travelling.
Also note that the charges you incur while using your mobile phone abroad may vary, depending on:
- Whether you are a pre-paid or a post-paid subscriber;
- The tariff plan you are on;
- The time of day you make calls; and
- The foreign operator network on which you are roaming.
Therefore, we suggest you check well how much you will be charged before travelling abroad (see Question 2 for more guidance) by calling your mobile operator or by visiting its international roaming web page (see also links in Question 9).
What is the Roaming Regulation?
In June 2007, the European Union (EU) adopted a Regulation that places a limit on the cost of making and receiving calls on mobile phones while travelling within the 28 EU Member States, called the ‘Euro-tariff’, so as to ensure that you do not pay excessive prices for roaming services when making and receiving calls when abroad. In the amended 2009 Regulation, additional rules were introduced which favoured customers, such as, further lowering the prices of calls made and received, introducing price limits on the costs of sending SMSs while roaming, called the ‘Euro-SMS tariff’ (see also question 6), as well as introducing a ‘cut-off’ mechanism on data services (see also question 10). Several transparency measures were also introduced to ensure that you are adequately informed of the roaming charges which apply for calls, SMSs and use of data services, and regularly updated with any change to these charges.
The July 2012 Roaming Regulation continues to develop rules which were introduced in the previous two regulations, and seek to protect roaming customers:
- Further lower the prices of calls made and received;
- Further lower the prices of sending an SMS while roaming;
- Introduce a limit on data roaming services, called the ‘Euro-Data tariff’ (see also questions 7 and 8); and
- The transparency measures introduced in 2009, to ensure that you are adequately informed of the roaming charges which apply for calls, SMSs and use of data services have now been extended to when you are roaming outside the EU.
What is the 'Euro-tariff'?
The Roaming Regulation requires that all mobile phone operators offer you a special voice tariff called the ‘Euro-tariff’ (see Table 1) for both pre-paid and post-paid customers:
- You will automatically benefit from this tariff, unless you choose a different roaming package with different tariffs for calls made from abroad;
- Your mobile operator may offer other roaming packages, in addition to the ‘Euro-tariff’. The charges on such packages may exceed the maximum ‘Euro-tariff’ charges, but on the other hand, the package may be more beneficial to your specific requirements;
- You may switch to or from the ‘Euro-tariff’ to another package at any time free of charge; and
- Your operator must bill you for ‘Euro-tariff’ calls on a per second basis for all voice calls made or received, that is, on the amount of time that you have actually used to the second.
Notwithstanding, you may be charged a flat rate for a period not exceeding the first 30 seconds of each call you make, that is, you will be charged up to half the minute rate (approximately €0.11,55c, that is, half of €0.23,09c, in case of the Euro-tariff). Per second billing has to be applied thereafter.
Note: This flat rate does not apply for calls received. One should note that before the Regulation came into force, many mobile operators used to charge you on a per minute basis.
The following table shows the maximum charge per minute that your mobile phone operator can charge you for calls made and received while roaming in one of the 28 EU Member States.
What is the 'Euro-SMS' tariff?
The Roaming Regulation requires that all mobile phone operators offer you a standard ‘Euro-SMS’ tariff (see Table 2) for both pre-paid and post-paid customers:
- As from 1st July 2014, you will be charged a maximum of €0.07,29c including VAT and duty tax to send an SMS while you are abroad, in line with the €0.06c (excluding VAT and duty tax) cap outlined in the Regulation;
- You will not be charged for receiving an SMS;
- You will automatically benefit from this tariff, unless you choose a different roaming package with different tariffs (higher or lower) for SMSs; and
- Your mobile operator may offer you other tariffs for SMS in roaming, in addition to this ‘Euro-SMS’ tariff.
You may switch to or from the ‘Euro-SMS’ tariff to another roaming package you like at any time free of charge.
What is the ‘Euro-Data’ tariff?
The 2012 amended Roaming Regulation required that all mobile phone operators offer you a standard ‘Euro-Data’ tariff (see Table 3) for both pre-paid and post-paid customers:
- As from the 1st July 2014, you will be charged a maximum of €0.24,31c per megabyte used, including VAT and duty tax to download data while you are abroad, in line with the €0.20c (excluding VAT and duty tax) cap outlined in the Regulation;
- ‘Euro-data’ tariff applies on a per kilobyte basis, except for Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) messages which may be charged on a per unit basis;
- You will automatically benefit from this tariff, unless you choose a different roaming package with different tariffs (higher or lower) for data; and
- Your mobile operator is free to offer you other tariffs for data roaming, in addition to this ‘Euro-Data’ tariff.
You may switch to or from the ‘Euro-Data’ tariff to another roaming package you like at any time free of charge.
What about Data Roaming services?
Whenever you download emails, photos, music or movies, browse the internet and send and receive MMS messages on your mobile phone or other mobile device for example, internet key/stick, whilst you are abroad, you are making use of data roaming services.
Besides setting a maximum limit charge for roaming data charges, the Regulation also helps you control how much you spend on data services when travelling and ensure that you do not accidentally run up huge bills when you connect to the Internet using your mobile phone or other mobile devise when abroad in the EU. A ‘cut-off’ mechanism has been introduced:
- As from 1st July 2010 your data-roaming limit was automatically set at a level which is close to, but not exceed, €50 (excluding VAT) per month whilst travelling in the EU, that is, not exceeding €60.77 (including VAT and duty tax) per month, unless you haven’t opted in to another financial limit prior to this date;
- Should you not wish to benefit from this automatic cut-off, you can opt-out at any time free of charge by contacting your mobile operator;
- Mobile operators may offer you other data-roaming limits with different (higher or lower) maximum monthly financial or equivalent volume limits; and
- As from 1st November 2010, a request from your part to remove the default cut-off limit or opt for another limit shall be carried out within one working day from receipt of your request, free of charge and without any other conditions or restrictions.
Where can I find more information on the alternative roaming packages offered by mobile operators?
As stated in the previous questions, mobile operators are able to provide alternative roaming packages for those travelling in the EU. For more information on this and other important details, please click on the appropriate links below:
How will I be informed of these charges and data limits?
Calls and SMS roaming
When you first arrive in a foreign country you will automatically receive a welcome SMS with:
- Basic personalized roaming charges that apply when making and receiving calls and sending of SMSs;
- A freephone number you can contact to obtain more information; and
- Information on the possibility to access the 112 emergency number free of charge.
Apart from this message, your mobile operator is required to keep you updated on any changes to the roaming charges.
When you first access data services from your mobile phone or other mobile device whilst roaming you will automatically receive a message from your operator via an SMS, e-mail or pop-up window on the computer, depending on the device being used, to remind you of the data roaming prices.
- When you reach 80% of the agreed financial or volume ‘cut-off’ data-roaming limit (€50/month by default as at 1 July 2013), you will receive a notification on your mobile phone or other mobile device; and
- When you reach the agreed limit, you will receive a notification informing you of the procedure to be followed if you wish to continue to use the data service in that particular month and the cost of additional data. If you do not respond as prompted, your operator will cut off the data service for that month.
Note: Should you not wish to receive any notification referred to above, you can opt-out at any time free of charge by contacting your mobile operator. Nonetheless, you can opt-back at any time free of charge.
Before travelling we suggest you check what charges you will incur, by calling your mobile operator or by visiting its international roaming web page. In Malta, all operators offer international roaming services to their subscribers.
Note: The above rules apply only to roaming mobile usage within the following 28 EU Member States:
For more information on European roaming charges, visit the EU website
Premium rate numbers
What are premium rate numbers?
Premium rate numbers are telephone numbers used to offer value added services to subscribers at a charge.
Does a call towards a premium number cost more than that to a standard fixed or mobile line?
The applicable charge for a call to a premium rate number is usually higher than the price of a standard call to a fixed or mobile line. Unlike a standard call towards a fixed or mobile line, the charge for a call to a premium rate number consists of the standard fixed call charge and an additional service charge.
What are the premium rate numbers in Malta?
The premium rate numbers currently used by the local service providers are those starting with 50, 51, and 52. (Note that premium rate numbers in other countries may have number structures which are different from those applicable in Malta).
How can I know whether a number is a premium number or not?
The following points may help you identify a premium number:
- The first digits of a number will help you identify a premium number. Please refer to the reply to the previous question for information on the range of premium numbers in Malta;
- Look out for the applicable tariff charge as this information is made public when the particular service is advertised or referred to; and
- Contact your service provider for information on specific premium numbers.
What is number portability?
Number portability enables you to retain your fixed/mobile number when switching to another service provider.
What are the factors to consider before porting?
- If you are tied for a minimum contractual period, early termination fees may apply if you switch to another service provider;
- If you are a pre-paid subscriber, check whether you will lose your credit balance when porting;
- Check whether any minimum threshold limit applies to your service. If this threshold limit applies, you may wish to check with your service provider whether you have reached this minimum threshold or not;
- If your Carelink service is linked to your telephone number you will be required to terminate your Carelink service before porting; and
- You must not terminate the fixed/mobile telephony service before you port. This has to be done by your new service provider as part of the porting process.
What steps should I take to apply for porting?
- Visit an outlet of the fixed/mobile telephony service provider you would like to subscribe to and take with you:
- your ID card or passport;
- SIM card (if you are porting your mobile number); and
- a copy of a recent bill or statement (in case of post-paid).
- At the outlet, fill in a porting form. The service provider will carry out the process to transfer your existing number on your behalf. It is important that the person signing the porting form is the subscriber, or his/her legally authorised representative.
- Ensure you settle all outstanding bills with your service provider in case you are a post-paid subscriber.
What shall I do if I encounter any difficulties while my number is being ported?
It is important that you contact and inform your new service provider with any issues that you encounter during the porting process. Your new service provider is responsible to ensure that the porting process is completed and that any issues that may arise during such process are resolved.
What are my rights and obligations after my number has been ported?
- Porting should normally take no longer than three(3) working days in case of fixed telephony and one (1) working day in case of mobile telephony. Nevertheless, exceptions may apply in certain cases; and
- When you port your number, you are tied to the new service provider for a minimum period of two months from when your number was effectively ported.
What is email forwarding?
The email forwarding service ensures that if you use an electronic mail service provided by your ISP, you can terminate your internet service without having to lose any email/s which go/es to your email address. You can ask your ISP to forward all emails addressed to your original email address to any new email address. When doing so, the ISP will also send an automated reply to every e-mail received on the original email address with a message informing the sender of the forwarding service and the new email address.
Can I retain the same email address when I change my ISP?
This depends on your ISP. Some ISPs provide a stand-alone email service, whilst others will only provide this email service in conjunction with an internet service.
When can I request the email forwarding service?
This service can only be requested upon termination of an internet subscription. When requesting email forwarding services, you are required to provide a new email address, so that the emails sent to the original email address will be forwarded to your new email address.
From where can I obtain a new email address?
You may opt for a free web-based email service, for example, Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo. Note that you should not use free email services to send sensitive information, because these services do not have a high level of security. Therefore, should you require an increased level of service and security, you may opt for an email service, against a fee. Such services are provided by a number of companies both locally and internationally.
If you have a business, you may register your own domain, for example, mydomain.com. This will allow you to host your email accounts at any ISP you like whilst retaining your email account even if you change ISP.
For how long shall I benefit from the email forwarding service?
You can benefit from such service for a period of one year without incurring any additional costs. On expiry of the first year, the service provider may offer such service at a cost.
Modifications to Terms and Conditions
Can a service provider change any of the terms and conditions of my contract?
Yes, service providers can change the Ts & Cs of your contract. In doing so, service providers must inform you one (1) month prior to the implementation of the said changes, in writing. Notifications to mobile pre-paid subscribers may be sent by SMS.
If my service provider proposes changes to my contract, do I have the right to terminate the service?
Yes, if you disagree with these changes, you have the right to withdraw from the contract without incurring any penalties within the notification period, which cannot be less than thirty (30) days.
Should I disagree with changes to my contract proposed by my service provider, how can I terminate my contract?
In the notification letter sent by your service provider, you will be informed how to inform your service provider of your intention to terminate the contract. For example, you may be required to send a written letter to your service provider, send an online request, etc. If no information is provided in the notification letter sent by the service provider, you should follow the termination procedure as specified in your contract.
If I paid for the service in advance, will I be refunded any remaining advance payment?
Yes, you are entitled to a refund of any fees paid in advance for the subscription of your service payments. The notification sent by your service provider will specify the manner in which any advance payment covering the remaining period of your contract will be refunded should you terminate the service.
The above excludes any payments and/or subsidies for benefits that the service provider may have granted to the subscriber. By way of example in the mobile telephony sector, service providers may offer subsidised or free mobile handsets to subscribers entering a definite contract.
Termination of service
How do I terminate my contract with my service provider?
- Follow the disconnection procedure as specified in your contract for service. If you are not in possession of your contract, you can contact your service provider to enquire about the disconnection procedure. Certain service providers may require a notification in writing and a copy of your ID card;
- Ensure that any outstanding bills are settled;
- Ensure that any CPE is handed back to the service provider upon termination; and
- Be aware that if you are subscribed to a pre-paid account with your existing service provider you may lose any unused credit.
If I decide to terminate my contract before the initial term has expired shall I be charged an early termination fee?
Contracts which establish a minimum contractual period are normally subject to an early termination fee. You may review your contract or enquire with your service provider to verify whether this is applicable in your case.
If my contract has expired (i.e. my initial term has elapsed), should the service provider terminate my contract?
This depends on what is listed in your contract. Generally service providers renew subscribers’ contracts for an indefinite period. If your contract has been renewed after the initial contractual period has expired, you will not be charged an early termination fee if you chose to terminate the contract. An early termination fee can apply if you enter a new contract for a new minimum contractual period. In such cases you would be required to sign a new contract.
Should my service stop as soon as I inform my service provider with my intention to terminate my contract?
Service providers can require subscribers to notify them in advance of their intention to terminate the service. Such advance notification period cannot exceed one (1) month. In such instances you will still be billed for the service during this notice period.
Free- to-air TV
How can I view the free-to-air channels?
You need a UHF aerial and a digital decoder or a digital TV. If you have a modern or flat panel, like an LCD, LED or plasma TV, you probably already have the necessary digital equipment built into your TV set, and you may not need anything else. On the other hand if you have an older TV set, such as the ‘tube’ type, you need to buy a digital decoder.
How many channels are transmitted via free-to-air?
Currently there are seven (7) Maltese channels transmitted via free-to-air: Xejk, F Living, Net TV, One TV, Smash TV, TVM and TVM 2.
In which direction should I position my aerial?
Your aerial should face one of the following locations: Delimara, Nadur, Mellieha, Mtarfa, Naxxar or Portomaso, as transmitters are located in these areas.
From where can I buy a digital decoder or a digital TV?
You may purchase a digital decoder or a digital TV from any shop of your choice. However, you must check with the salesperson whether the equipment purchased is suitable to view the free-to-air channels. Before you shop for a decoder, make a note of the brand and model of your TV so that the sales person can show you compatible digital decoders and provide you with a suitable video cable.
How do I install a digital decoder?
Before you install your digital decoder, you should always read the instructions provided carefully. The information below describes the installation of a digital decoder and does not substitute the instructions provided with the digital decoder.
- Unplug the TV plug from the wall power socket.
- Remove the aerial cable from the back of the TV set and connect it to the socket marked ‘ANT IN’ on the digital decoder.
- Connect one end of the video lead to the socket marked ‘TV’ on the decoder and the other end to the TV.
- Plug the power leads on your decoder and TV into a wall power socket.
- Switch on the decoder and the TV. Your TV will usually be able to detect the new digital decoder automatically, but if this does not happen simply select station ‘AV1’ on your TV remote control.