Cheaper bundle packages lift telco subscriber numbers in Malta

Telco operators in Malta are seeing increasing revenues lifted by hiking subscriber numbers

(source: Unsplash/Robin Worrall)

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The number of customers opting for bundle packages of telecommunications service providers grew in the second half of 2018 due to better prices, while customer numbers in stand-alone packages dropped, according to the most recent figures of the Malta Communications Authority. Telco operators in Malta are seeing increasing numbers in users spurring growing revenues.

Subscriptions in the fixed broadband segment were up by 5.8% to 191,833 by end of 2018, as take-up of fast broadband surged by 76% year-on-year, reaching 63,799, as compared to the preceding year.

This performance has led to a reported 4.4% increase in average revenue per user (ARPU) to €117.92 in the second half of 2018, as compared to €112.99 reported in the same period a year earlier.

The number of subscriptions at the end of the second half of 2018. (data source: Malta Communications Authority)

Subscriber numbers for mobile telephone services grew by a slight 1.8% in year-on-year to 615,843 by the end of 2018. This figure is a telltale sign of a highly-saturated market, considering the estimated 460,000 population of Malta. Calculating with these figures, it puts mobile subscriptions at roughly 133% of the population.

In contrast, at the end of 2017, unique mobile subscriber numbers in Europe reached 465 million, equivalent to 85% of the population, according to figures by GSMA, which body represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting more than 750 operators with over 350 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem

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In Malta, the number of mobile voice traffic minutes were up by 37.9% year-on-year to 619.1 million in the second half of 2018 (excluding roaming minutes).

Prepaid plans still dominated the segment by taking up 62.5% of all subscriptions, nevertheless losing some ground by 0.7%, while the postpaid sector was up by 6.6% year-on-year.

As demand for connectivity on the go is quickly growing, mobile data usage has been going up. Some 74% of all mobile telephone subscriptions accessed mobile data services, up by 1 percentage point year-on-year. Users consumed 3.2 million GBs of data in the second half of 2018, up by 0.8 million GBs (+30%) when compared to mobile data consumption recorded in the same period a year earlier.

Due to expanding mobile data usage, the revenue stream of local operators went up resulting in an ARPU of €92.40 in the second half of 2018, as compared to €88.86 in the second half of 2017.

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Fixed telephone services losing popularity

Despite a year-on-year growth of 6.3% to 255,437 in subscription numbers in H2 2018 — which was chiefly fuelled by the service being offered in bundle packages — customer behaviour reveals that fixed telephone services play a less significant role in the end user’s life as voice minutes fell by 5.7%. National voice traffic volumes came to 203.8 million minutes, while internationally 8.4 million fixed-to-international (FTI) voice call minutes were recorded.

Nevertheless, television is an attraction force for the eyes of subscribers. “The pay-TV sector saw a 6.2% jump in subscriptions year-on-year, with a total of 165,289 subscriptions recorded at the end of the current reporting period. Bundling is also getting increasingly prevalent in this segment, with 72.2% of all pay-tv subscriptions being bundled with other services at the end of the year, which is up by 6.3 percentage points over a 12-month period,” the MCA report says.

“The increased take-up of premium content reinvigorated not only the subscriber base of the pay-TV segment but also the revenue streams of local operators. In fact, the ARPU for this sector was up by 2.2% from €44.27 at the end of 2017 to €45.23 at the end of 2018,” the MCA report adds.

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As trends indicate increased online activities, mail volumes in the postal sector — albeit marginally — were down as compared to previous years. Single piece and bulk letter mail segments accounted for the registered drop, according to MCA figures. Although gains were noted for registered mail items and parcel mail segments, gains in the latter did not outweigh losses in the former seeing that total mail volume was down 0.2 million mail items or by 1.3%, MCA figures add.

As buying products have become increasingly quick and easy through our handheld smart devices, buyers are ever more likely to purchase goods from abroad. Therefore, the Malta Communication Authority (MCA) recently reminded of possible extra charges to be paid at the border when goods arrive outside the European Union.