The Malta Communications Authority (MCA) reported there was a robust 42.7 per cent year-on-year increase in non-traditional mail volumes during the first half of 2023.

Outside of the Universal Service Scope, these volumes surged, particularly for lighter mail items, “possibly due to the evolving and growing e-commerce landscape,” the authority explained.

Delving deeper, the MCA attributed this growth to mail items weighing up to two kilograms, which saw a substantial 63.5 per cent surge, contributing to an increase of 426,087 items.

In addition, for mail items weighing between two kilograms and 31.5 kilograms, a 15.2 per cent increase was observed in comparison to the corresponding period in 2022. Therefore, amounting to an increase of 77,051 mail items.

These statistics were published by MCA as part of an overview of key trends within the Maltese telecommunications and postal sectors for the first half of 2023. The MCA, with the aim of fostering competition and safeguarding consumer interests in Malta’s telecommunications and postal sectors, regularly collects data from authorised operators within these industries. “

Nonetheless, MCA remarked the noticeable divergence emerging in the trends of postal volumes between the areas encompassed by the Universal Service and those considered competitive areas. Even though the mail volumes in the Universal Service areas make up a substantial portion of all postal traffic (87.5 per cent), there is a clear contrast or disparity when comparing the postal mail volumes in these areas, during the first half of 2023 to the same period in 2022.

Specifically, during the first half of this year, postal items delivered within the Universal Service area dropped by 14.5 per cent, compared to the previous year. “This decline was chiefly propelled by a 29.3 per cent reduction in registered mail volumes, a 14.9 per cent decrease in single-piece letter mail, and a 13.8 per cent decline in bulk mail,” the MCA commented.

Notably, however, the volume of parcel mail within the Universal Service sector increased by 5.3 per cent. The latter increase was not sufficiently strong as to outweigh the declines reported in the other segments.

Almost 10,000 subscription growth for IPTV marks a 14.5% year-on-year increase

In the TV segment, an analysis of subscription trends based on technology platforms revealed a substantial 9,910 subscriptions in the IPTV category, representing a strong year-on-year increase of 14.5 per cent. On the other hand, digital cable subscriptions experienced a decrease of 3,293, marking a 2.9 per cent decline over the 12-month period ending in June.

“It is worth mentioning that subscriptions on the DTTV platform have now been completely phased out,” MCA said.

Overall, there was an annual increase of 6,617 subscriptions, translating to a year-on-year growth of 3.7 per cent, bringing the total to 187,335 by the end of the reporting period. Notably, close to 83 per cent of these TV subscriptions were part of bundle offerings.

The Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) for Pay-TV witnessed a decline, moving from €44.25 in June 2022 to €42.51 in June 2023.

Average Revenue Per User for fixed telephony €24.26 in second quarter of 2023, down from €25.92 in 2022

In the fixed telephony segment, there was a modest 0.5 per cent year-on-year growth in subscriptions, culminating in a total of 259,609 by the end of the quarter being examined. However, there was a noticeable decrease in voice call and minute volumes, both plunging by 23.9 per cent and 27.8 per cent respectively compared to the corresponding quarter in the previous year. A significant portion of these subscriptions, making up 86.3 per cent of the overall total, were bundled with other services, indicating an increase from 84.9 per cent in March 2022.

The ARPU for fixed telephony was reported at €24.26 in the second quarter of the current year, down from €25.92 in the previous year. The increase in ARPU for fixed telephony, despite the drop in voice call volumes, can be attributed to various factors, including bundled packages and the revenue allocation mechanism employed by local service providers on bundle revenues.

‘The upsurge in mobile data consumption remained robust’

In the first half of 2023, mobile telephony subscriptions exhibited an 8.7 per cent year-on-year growth, reaching a total of 736,214 by the end of June. “This increase was propelled by a 48,885 rise in post-paid users’ year-on-year, along with an increase of 6,572 pre-paid users,” MCA explained.

The upsurge in mobile data consumption remained robust, with domestic mobile internet data volumes experiencing a substantial 53 per cent increase when compared to the first half of 2022. In contrast, voice minute traffic volumes saw a 4.5 per cent year-on-year decline, while SMS volumes decreased by 7.0 per cent compared to the corresponding period of the previous year. These trends indicate a noticeable shift in mobile telephony usage, with the growing popularity of Over-The-Top (OTT) messaging platforms such as Messenger and WhatsApp, possibly also contributing to the trends in mobile voice call minutes consumed.

The ARPU for mobile telephony experienced a slight year-on-year decrease, dropping from €39.22 in the second quarter of 2022 to €38.62 in the second quarter of this year.

Fixed broadband sector saw 3.1 per cent growth in subscriber base

The fixed broadband sector saw a 3.1 per cent growth in the subscriber base, resulting in the addition of 6,992 new subscriptions year-on-year. Notably, the high-end segment saw an increase of over 18,000 subscriptions supporting headline download speeds ranging from 100Mbps to 1Gbps or more in the twelve months leading up to June 2023.

FTTH-based subscriptions constituted 28.4 per cent of all fixed broadband subscriptions by the end of the period under review. This segment marked a significant increase of 13,388 subscribers year-on-year. Cable-based subscriptions also demonstrated growth, rising by 2,284 during the same period making up 47.5 per cent of all subscriptions by the end of the current reporting period. Fixed wireless broadband subscriptions also increased by 1,529 (or 9.4 per cent) year-on-year, accounting for 7.6 per cent of the total fixed broadband subscriptions by the end of June. In contrast, copper DSL subscriptions declined by 10,209 (or 21.1 per cent). However, they still comprised 16.4 per cent of all subscriptions by the end of June. The trend for the segment reflects the operator’s strategic shift to transition customers from the copper DSL platform to fiber.

By the end of June 2023, the proportion of internet subscriptions bundled with other services experienced a marginal decrease compared to the previous year, declining from 92.1 per cent to 91.4 per cent of the total subscriptions. Furthermore, the average revenue per user (ARPU) for fixed internet demonstrated an increase, rising from €66.11 in the second quarter of 2022 to €68.95 in the corresponding quarter of 2023.

Total number of high-quality dedicated connections on the rise when compared to 2022

Dedicated connections are premium, point-to-point data transmission connections commonly utilised by businesses in Malta, including government entities, banks, and gaming companies.

“This business segment is niche for local operators, serving a smaller customer base, typically businesses, with well-defined data connectivity needs. The latter connectivity requirements are distinct to the internet mass market plans that are also available from the major operators in Malta. These dedicated connections offer specific features such as no contention ratio, fully symmetrical speeds, and Service Level Agreements (SLAs),” MCA said.

By the end of June 2023, the total number of high-quality dedicated connections amounted to 326, reflecting a rise of 1.9 per cent compared to the same quarter of the previous year’s figure of 320.

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