Mobile broadband overtakes fixed

At the end of December there were around 2.4 million users in Portugal with mobile broadband Internet access and around 1.68 million customers with fixed Internet accesses, about 1.63 million of which were broadband accesses.

Mobile broadband saw a high rate of growth during the period being reported. The number of users increased by 278 thousand in during the final quarter of 2008 to 2.378 million users, representing a rise of almost 13% compared to the previous quarter.  Compared to the same quarter of 2007, a growth rate of 63% is reported.

Along with the high rate of growth seen in the number of mobile broadband accesses, their use has also grown. The number of mobile broadband users who were active during the period being reported grew by around 14% over the quarter, rising to 1.161 million users in the latest quarter, a figure that is 75.9% higher than the value recorded in the fourth quarter of 2007.

The volume of mobile Internet access traffic (in MB) rose by 9% over the previous quarter.

Meanwhile, the number of fixed internet access service customers, (around 1.68 million) grew by around 2.1% in the 4th quarter compared to the previous quarter and by 3.9% year-on-year.

The number of dial-up access customers continued to decline, as a result of the migration of users to broadband. In this quarter the number of dial-up customers stood at 41 thousand, around 4,500 less than in the previous quarter. Since 4Q07, dial-up accesses have fallen by around 58.7%.

The majority of Internet access service customers use broadband: the customers of these services represent around 98% of all customers. The number of customers of broadband services reached 1.6 million at the end of December, around 39 thousand more than in the previous quarter. The number of fixed broadband customers rose, therefore, by 2.5% in comparison to the previous quarter and by 8.1% compared to the same quarter of 2007.

ADSL remains the principle broadband Internet access technology, now representing 58% of the total, four percentage points below the peak recorded two years ago. Cable modem is used by 40.5% of fixed broadband customers. Accesses based on leased lines, on FWA and on fibre optic represent just 1.6% of the total number of customers.

As far as market share of fixed broadband access is concerned, Grupo Portugal Telecom's share of customers stood at 41.6%, 0.8 percentage points up on the previous quarter, increasing in part due to the MEO service of PT Comunicações.

Meanwhile, ZON Multimédia recently announced the acquisition of the companies of Grupo Parfiltel (Bragatel, Pluricanal Leiria and Pluricanal Santarém), as well as TV Tel. These operations were given definitive approval by Autoridade da Concorrência (the Competition Authority) on 24 November 2008. As a result of these acquisitions and from the activities of the previously existing business units, ZON/TV Cabo's share of customers grew by 3.4 percentage points during the quarter being reported to 31.3%.

These two groups are followed, in terms of market share by Sonaecom with 12.5%, Cabovisão with 9.3%, Vodafone with 2.8% and Ar Telecom with 1.5%. Finally, there is a group of alternative operators totalling 1% of the market.

According to available data, it can be seen that, during the quarter being reported, around 77% of new fixed broadband customers signed up to the services operated by Grupo PT, in particular as a result of the expansion associated with the MEO service of PT Comunicações.

At the end of December, the penetration rate of broadband Internet access stood at 15.4 per 100 inhabitants for fixed access and at 22.4 per 100 inhabitants for mobile accesses.

In the case of fixed access, this figure increased 0.4 percentage points over the previous quarter being around 1.2% higher than the figure recorded for the fourth quarter of 2007. The penetration rate for mobile broadband grew by 2.6% over the quarter.

Currently there is a lack of widespread and comparable information on the penetration of mobile broadband in other EU countries, although some international bodies, including the European Commission, have already given notice of their intention to start compiling this type of information.

ICP-ANACOM was one of the first European regulators to start compiling and publishing information on mobile broadband accesses (since January 2007) and has made every effort to promote international comparisons that include this information.

Information on mobile broadband penetration (cards/modem) in EU (4Q08)

Information on broadband penetration in the EU (2Q08)