Penetration of mobile services with actual use rose to 130.2 per 100 inhabitants
At the end of first half of 2023 (1H2023), penetration of the mobile service reached 179.4 per 100 inhabitants. If only mobile accesses with actual use1 are considered (excluding M2M2), the penetration rate in Portugal would be 130.2. Excluding accesses exclusively associated with data services and Internet access (cards associated with PC /tablet/pen/routers), mobile services would have a penetration rate of 122.5 per 100 inhabitants.
The penetration rate of mobile accesses sold together with fixed services (i.e., in convergent packages) was 55.6 per 100 inhabitants3.
Number of users increased by 2.5% in the last 12 months
There were 18.8 million mobile accesses eligible to use the service in Portugal. Of these, 13.6 million (72.6% of the total) were actually used. Excluding PC/tablet/pen/router accesses, the number of mobile accesses totalled 12.8 million.
The number of subscribers who actually used the service during the period increased by 331 thousand (+2.5%) compared to the same period last year. This trend is explained by greater uptake of postpaid and hybrid plans (+8.1% in the last 12 months), representing 67.0% of total accesses with actual use. Prepaid plans, which in 2021 had reversed the downward trend since 2012, returned to the previous trend and declined for the third consecutive quarter year-on-year (-7.2 per cent).
Average traffic per access decreased by 7.6%
Mobile voice traffic in minutes decreased by 5.5% compared to the first half of 2022 (1H2022). The number of conversation minutes per mobile voice access in 1H2023 averaged 218 minutes per month, which represents approximately 7.3 minutes per day. Compared to the same period last year, average monthly traffic decreased by 18 minutes (-7.6%).
The average duration of calls was 2 minutes and 57 second per call, 10 seconds shorter (-5.1%) than in the same period last year.
MBB penetration reached 97.2 per 100 inhabitants
The number of actual users of the mobile Internet access service was reported at 10.2 million, 7.1% more than in the same period last year. This value corresponds to a penetration rate of around 97.2 per 100 inhabitants (+6.0 p.p. versus 1H2022).
PC/tablet/pen/router users increased by 14.4%
The increase in the number of users results from increases both in the number of mobile phone Internet users (+6.5%) and in the number of users of the Internet access service via PC/tablet/pen/router (+14.4%). The growth of the latter accesses has been above 10% year-on-year since mid-2021, influenced by the Digital School Programme launched in September 2020, which includes the distribution to students of an internet hotspot and a SIM card to connect to the mobile network. Such high increases have not been seen since 2010, when the e-initiatives programme was launched.
Mobile Internet traffic increased by 48.2% and average monthly traffic reached 9.2 GB
Mobile broadband (MBB) Internet access traffic increased by 48.2% compared to 1H2022. This growth is explained by the increase in the number of users and, above all, by increased intensity of use.
Average monthly traffic per active mobile Internet user increased by 37.9% year-on-year. Each mobile broadband user consumed an average of 9.2 GB per month. Average monthly traffic generated per PC/tablet/pen/router reached 29.6 GB (+13.3%).
M2M accesses increased by 11.1%
At the end of 1H2023 there were around 1.5 million active mobile accesses associated with Machine-to-Machine (M2M) use, an increase by 11.1% versus the same period last year. These accesses represented 7.9% of total active accesses.
Significant increases in roaming international traffic
Roaming traffic showed growth in all traffic types compared to the same period last year, with the exception of roaming out minutes. Internet traffic stands out, with growth of +58% for both roaming in and roaming out traffic.
Internet access when roaming in was twice as high as when roaming out
In this six-month period, the degree of traffic coverage in roaming in minutes versus roaming out minutes was 94.2%. In the case of Internet access, roaming in traffic was 2.7 times higher than roaming out traffic.
MEO was the operator with the highest share of active mobile connections with actual use (38.9%), followed by NOS (29.2%) and Vodafone (28.4%). NOWO and Lycamobile followed with shares of 2.0% and 1.6% respectively.
Compared to the same period last year, the mobile access shares of NOS, Lycamobile and NOWO increased by 1.2 p.p., 0.2 p.p. and 0.1 p.p. respectively, while the shares of MEO and Vodafone decreased by 0.8 p.p. and 0.7 p.p. respectively.
The level of concentration, as measured by the Herfindahl-Hirschman index, remained high, although the downward trend that began in 2014 continued.
MEO’s share of mobile internet subscribers was 36.2%, followed by NOS with 32.4%, Vodafone with 28.1%, NOWO with 2.3% and Lycamobile with 1.0%. Compared to the same period last year, the share of NOS increased by 1.6 p.p., while the shares of Vodafone, MEO and Lycamobile decreased by 1.0 p.p., 0.4 p.p. and 0.2 p.p. respectively. The subscriber shares of NOWO and Onitelecom remained unchanged.
NOS has the largest share of mobile broadband Internet traffic (35.9%), followed by Vodafone and MEO (35.2% and 28.1% respectively). Compared to the same period last year, Vodafone’s share increased by 2.2 p.p., while the shares of NOS and MEO decreased by 1.9 p.p. and 0.3 p.p. respectively.
1.9 million users of 5G mobile Internet
At the end of 2021, following the 5G auction, ANACOM issued titles supporting rights of use of frequencies (RUF) to six operators: Dense Air, Dixarobil (Digi Portugal), MEO, NOS, NOWO and Vodafone.
Following the allocation of the above titles, operators announced a number of commercial offers related to 5G. Operators announced that they will provide free access to 5G for all customers until 30 September 2023. After this date, the 5G option will generally be subject to an additional price of EUR 5.00/month, except in the case of offers with higher traffic caps, where users will be able to continue accessing 5G without additional payments.
According to available information, it is estimated that 13.7% of mobile service users and 18.3% of mobile Internet users were using the 5G mobile network at the end of 1H2023. There were 1.9 million mobile Internet users using 5G in total, resulting in a penetration rate of 17.8 per 100 inhabitants.
5G traffic made up 8.7% of total mobile data traffic
It is estimated that, in 1H2023, traffic routed on 5G networks represented around 8.7% of total mobile data traffic, reaching 4.7 GB monthly per 5G mobile Internet user.
1 Active mobile accesses, such as subscription plans, minute plans, monthly payment plans convertible into traffic, which are eligible to use one of the contracted services and that actually made use of one of the contracted services in the period being reported.
2 Machine-to-Machine (M2M) applications use mobile networks and the Internet to operate, monitor and interconnect machines and devices (i.e., tele-alarm, tele-security, telemetry, etc.). They are associated with the so-called Internet of Things.
3 This is a portion of the 179.4 per 100 inhabitants referred to in the previous paragraph.