As telecommunications technology evolves so do consumer habits, and the latest publication by the Malta Communications Authority (MCA) shows that Maltese are demanding faster internet and more connectivity from their mobile devices.

The MCA is responsible for the regulation and oversight of Malta’s telecommunications and postal sectors and regularly collects data from authorised operators to track market trends.

In 2022, the electronic communications segment witnessed further expansion in its subscriber base, both in fixed broadband and mobile telephony.

Fixed broadband received 8,275 new subscribers (3.7 per cent), with growth in the sector coupled with increased demand for high-speed connectivity. Plans supporting download speeds of 100Mbps or more accounted for 68 per cent of all internet subscribers by the end of 2022, six per cent more than the previous year.

Meanwhile subscription growth was strongest for the mobile telephony service, with almost 52,000 new clients registered by local operators, with more users turning to their mobile data plans for internet access. Take up for mobile broadband rose by 61 per cent year-on-year.

The MCA claims that this is likely due to the wider availability of unlimited data mobile plans and the convenience of using mobile devices for internet access. Furthermore, developments in 5G deployment may have accelerated consumer trends towards wireless options, despite the fact that 4G technology continues to carry the majority of mobile data traffic.

Pay-TV services also experienced growth, with nearly 5,932 new subscriptions (3.3 per cent) recorded year-on-year, largely led by IPTV-based subscriptions.

In contrast, fixed telephony experienced modest growth, with only 1,108 new subscribers (0.4 per cent), since prepaid plans were phased out in 2022 and the previous year. The MCA stated that the rise in fixed telephony post-paid subscriptions may reflect the trend of the service being offered in a bundle alongside fixed broadband, without effectively translating into more use of the service.

This was reflected in fact that on a year-on-year basis, voice call and minute volumes were down 22.3 per cent and 27.2 per cent respectively.

The postal mail segment also witnessed a sharp year-on-year drop in traditional mail services. Registered mail items declined by 45 per cent, single-piece letter mail volumes declined by 11 per cent, bulk mail items declined by six per cent and parcel mail decreased by one per cent.

However, outside the scope of the traditional service, there was an increase in postal mail volumes. Larger parcels weighing between 2kg and 31.5kg increased by 42.5 per cent.

The regulator attributed this to the rise in e-commerce activity which requires larger-sized parcel deliveries, reflecting a shift towards online shopping.

Overall, the trends demonstrated in the publication indicate a growing reliance on high-speed connectivity, mobile devices and bundle plans which will continue shaping consumer behaviour and industries in the years to come.

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