COVID-19 drives mobile voice and internet traffic in the 1 semester of this year

The exceptional measures associated to Covid-19 gave rise to significant growth of mobile service monthly traffic and of the average duration of these calls at the end of the 1st semester of 2020 (1S2020). Mobile voice traffic increased by 17%, year-on-year (1S2019), reaching 16.7 billion minutes.

The changes in consumption patterns derived from the impact of Covid-19 also had a strong impact on the number of minutes of conversation per mobile voice access, which stood at an average of 238 per month, 36 minutes more than in the same period of 2019. The average duration of the calls reached a historic pea of 203 seconds per call, 41 seconds more than in 1S2019, the highest figure recorded up to date.

By type of call, the strong growth observed in voice traffic in minutes was primarily the result of the increased off-net traffic (+24.9%) and on-net traffic (+12.5%). Significant increases were also recorded in mobile-fixed traffic (+20.0%) and calls to short and non-geographic numbers. Traffic destined to international networks fell by 14.6% in relation to the same period of the previous year.

Mobile broadband internet traffic (BLM) increased by 33.9% in relation to 1S2019, affected by impacts of Covid-19. The monthly average traffic per active mobile internet user increased by 28.9% year-on-year. Each mobile broadband user consumed, on average, 4.5 GB per month. It should be recalled that the larger providers offered their customers 10 GB of mobile data at the beginning of the period in which the state of emergency was enforced.

The mobile accesses authorized to use the service amounted 16.9 million of which 12 million (71.4% of the total) were effectively used. Excluding the number of accesses made by PC/tablet/pen/router, the number of mobile accesses reached 11.5 million.

At the end of 1S2020, the penetration of the mobile service reached 164 per 100 inhabitants. If only mobile accesses with effective use are considered1 (excluding machine-to-machine – M2M), the penetration rate in Portugal would be 117. On the other hand, if we were to exclude accesses exclusively made by data and internet access services (cards associated to a PC/tablet/pen/router), the penetration of mobile services would be 112 per 100 inhabitants. The penetration of mobile accesses offered with bundled services provided at a fixed location was 45.4 per 100 inhabitants (convergence bundles).

Mobile internet penetration was 76.4 per 100 inhabitants, +0.5 percentage points (p.p.) than in 1S2019. The number of actual users of the internet access mobile service stood at 7.9 million (+0.9% year-on-year), continuing the trend of slowdown that began in 2017.

Roaming traffic recorded a decline in all types of traffic in relation to 1S2019, especially internet traffic (-27.5% in the case of roaming in and -7.2% in the case of roaming out), which, for the first time since the collection of this indicator (in 2010), recorded negative growth rates in relation to the same quarter of the previous year. The decline recorded in all types of roaming in and roaming out traffic was the result of the fall in international travel derived from the pandemic situation.

In terms of shares of the providers, MEO was the provider with the highest share of active mobile accesses with actual use (41.9%), followed by Vodafone (30.1%) and NOS (26.2%). In relation to the same period of the previous year, the share of mobile accesses of NOS increased by 1.2 p.p., with the shares of MEO's and Vodafone having fallen by 1.2 p.p. and 0.1 p.p., respectively.

In the case of the subscribers of mobile broadband internet access, MEO's share was 38.3%, followed by Vodafone with 29.9% and NOS with 29.6%. In 1S2020, the share of NOS increased by 1.0 p.p., and the share of subscribers of MEO and Vodafone fell by 1.0 p.p. and 0.5 p.p., respectively.

NOS had the highest share of broadband internet traffic (46.2%), followed by MEO and Vodafone (27.1% and 26.3%, respectively). Compared to the previous year, the share of NOS increased by 5.2 p.p. The shares of Vodafone and MEO declined by 4.1 p.p. and 1.2 p.p., respectively.

1 Active mobile accesses, including for example, subscription plans, minute plans, monthly charges convertible into traffic, etc., who are entitled to use one of the contracted services and effectively use one of the services contracted in the reporting period.

Consult the statistical report: