Migration of prepaid mobile subscribers to multiple-play offers continues

The migration of Portuguese subscribers from pre-paid plans to combined/hybrid/post-paid plans continues to have an impact, particularly as regards plans associated with multiple-play offers which include the fixed and mobile telephone service. Given this trend, at the end of 1st quarter of 2016 (1Q16) the proportion of prepaid subscribers dropped to 49.7%, falling below 50% for the first time.

Meanwhile, there were around 5.7 million actual users of services which are typical of mobile broadband (i.e. video telephony, data transmission, broadband, mobile TV, etc.), falling by 2.3% from the previous quarter but increasing by 6% over 1st quarter 2015 to represent 44.6% of total SIM cards with actual use. The increased use of these services, in year-on-year terms, is associated with the increased number of mobile phone Internet users (+13.2% compared to 1Q15), especially where included in bundled offers, and the increasing smartphone penetration.

MEO remains the main provider, with 44.5% of active mobile stations with actual use, Vodafone followed with 32.4%. NOS, with a share of 21.7%, was the provider that saw the greatest increase in the number of mobile stations with actual use over the period, increasing its share by 0.8 percentage points.

In April 2016 commercial offers were launched by two new virtual mobile operators (MVNO) - Cabovisão and Onitelecom. During 1Q16, these providers conducted tests of their services.

At the end of 1Q16, the mobile service penetration rate was reported at 161.6 per 100 inhabitants. The penetration rate of mobile stations with actual use was 123.2 per 100 inhabitants.

At the end of 1Q16, there were 16.8 million mobile stations eligible to use the service, of these 12.8 million (76.2% of total) saw actual use during the last quarter. Excluding tablets/PCs and mobile stations associated with machine-to-machine communications (M2M), there were 11.5 million mobile stations/devices with actual use in 1Q16 (a decline of 1.6 percent over the previous quarter and a decline of 0.7 percent over 1Q15).

The volume of conversation minutes originating on mobile networks saw a decrease of 1.6% over 4th quarter of 2015 (4Q15) and an increase of 4.8% compared to 1Q15. In year-on-year terms, this trend is mainly due to the growth in off-net minutes, increasing by 26.1%, following the introduction of offers with included calls and the elimination of tariff differentiation between on-net and off-net calls, particularly in bundled offers that comprise the mobile service. On-net traffic recorded a year-on-year decrease of 4.3%.

Users of the text messaging service (64.7% of total mobile stations with actual use, excluding Internet access cards and M2M communications equipment) sent 9.2% fewer messages versus 1Q15. The average monthly number of messages sent per user of this service was 210 (230 in 1Q15), which represents about 7 messages per day. Message traffic has seen a significant reduction due to the emergence of alternative forms of communication.

The average number of users of the roaming international services outside Portugal represented 8.3% of total mobile stations with actual use (excluding tablets/ PC and M2M equipment.

Roaming out traffic increased over 1Q15, with a notable increase in the volume of Internet traffic (increasing by 122.6%). This increase may be associated, among other factors, with the entry into force of the new caps on retail charges for Roaming within the European Union and European Economic Area.

Roaming in traffic decreased from the previous quarter, as is usual at this time of year. Compared to the same quarter of 2015, there were increases reported in all types of traffic, particularly in Internet traffic (+156.1%).

The volume of accumulated revenues from services to end-customers up to the end of 1Q16 totalled about 342 million euros, falling 7.2% year-on-year. Average monthly revenue per subscriber was 8.9 euros.

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