Smartphone user / Unsplash

The telecommunications sector experienced continued growth in the first quarter of 2024 (Q1 2024), with a 5.8 per cent year-on-year increase in subscriptions for mobile telephony being recorded.

This was highlighted in a Malta Communications Authority’s (MCA) report highlighting market trends between Q1 2020 and Q1 2024.

By the end of the first quarter of 2024, there were 754,926 mobile telephony subscribers, a growth that also led to an increase in the mobile penetration rate, reaching 135.7 per cent of the total Maltese population.

This was primarily driven by a year-on-year increase of 54,737 post-paid subscriptions, which, by March 2024, accounted for over half (51.2 per cent) of all mobile telephony subscribers.

Mobile telephony Q1 2024 / MCA
Mobile telephony subscriptions data / MCA

For the first time since the data started being compiled, there were more post-paid than pre-paid mobile telephony subscriptions, particularly a result of the growing demand for interconnectivity and data-centric plans.

Additionally, the MCA noted that subscribers are making fewer but longer calls, as the volume of local outgoing voice calls has declined by almost one million calls (0.8 per cent), yet outgoing voice traffic minutes increased by 3.6 million minutes year-on-year.

Contrastingly, mobile data volumes surged upwards by 41 per cent from the same period in 2023.

On the other hand, the fixed-line telephony subscription base registered a slight year-on-year decline of 0.1 per cent, as more consumers depend on mobile devices and their accessibility.

In the fixed broadband segment, there was a 2.6 per cent year-on-year increase in subscriptions, reaching 237,035 subscribers.

While cable subscriptions still accounted for the largest share of Malta’s internet subscriber base by the end of March 2024 at 46.7 per cent, this was down from the 47.8 per cent of the previous year. This was closely followed by fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) subscriptions which increased significantly from 26.8 per cent to 34.1 per cent.

There was a sharp drop of 21.5 per cent in the number of broadband subscriptions with download speeds below 100 megabits per second (Mbps), yet other download speeds had substantial year-on-year increases.

The most significant was a 53 per cent rise in subscriptions with internet download speeds greater than or equal to one gigabit per second (Gbps).

Fixed broadband remained the highest source of revenue per user for local telecommunication operators, with the average revenue per user (ARPU) standing at €66.22. Interestingly, this was down by 4.6 per cent from the €69.38 recorded at the end of March 2023.

ARPU Q1 2024 / MCA
ARPU data / MCA

Pay-TV subscriptions increased 3.3 per cent to 191,221 by the end of Q1 2024, with 83.2 per cent of all subscriptions forming part of a bundle plan.

The number of IPTV subscriptions rose by 10.7 per cent, reaching a total of 84,955 by the end of Q1 2024.

High quality dedicated connections, those premium, point-to-point data transmission connections often used by businesses in Malta, amounted to 336 by the end of Q1 2024, reflecting a 5.3 per cent year on-year increase from March 2023.

This business segment is relatively niche for local operators, serving a smaller customer base, primarily businesses, with well-defined data connectivity needs.

On the other hand, the postal sector witnessed a substantial decline in mail one, dropping to 6.9 million items in Q1 2024 from the 7.3 million in Q1 2023.

This was primarily notable in in mail volumes within the scope of the universal service, as single-piece letter mail and bulk mail decreased by 12 per cent and 5.7 per cent, respectively.

Mail volumes outside the scope of the universal service increased by 76,363 items, reaching 903,718 items. This was driven by a surge in mail items weighing up to two kilograms, while those weighing less dropped by 23.4 per cent.

The universal service is an initiative that aims to ensure that postal services are available to end-users in Malta at an affordable price.

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