Mobile telecommunications services

This category specifically comprises land mobile service, mobile trunking service and paging service.

Land mobile service

At the end of 2002 there were three active operators providing land mobile service via the GSM-900, GSM-1800 and GPRS networks, respectively Optimus, TMN and Vodafone Telecel. Regarding UMTS, none of the operators began activity. The fourth operator licensed for that system, OniWay, did not begin its mobile telecommunications activity, and cancellation of the respective licence was formalised in early 2003.

The evolution of the number of subscribers shows that the Portuguese market is reaching saturation. The average rate of growth in subscriber numbers in 2002 was 7 percent, reaching a total number of about 8.5 million subscribers. This increase implied growth in the service penetration rate of 5.2 percentage points over 2001, reaching 82.5 percent, a value above the European Union average.

Around 67 percent of outgoing mobile traffic corresponded to in-net traffic. The tendency for land mobile service to be used to make calls between mobile networks and particularly within the same originating network has been boosted by the operators themselves, specifically by means of price packages and integrated VPN (virtual private network) type solutions.

The evolution of written message (SMS) traffic was extremely positive, considerably surpassing the operators? own expectations. The growth in this traffic type may justify the slowdown in the growth of voice traffic.

The delayed launch of UMTS has led operators to become more involved in the creation and launch of innovative products and solutions based on GPRS. Customer appetites for new services have thus been tested, such as MMS (multimedia messaging service) and subscribers have been familiarised with future services to be implemented by UMTS.

Mobile trunking service

Two companies are licensed to provide this service, ?Radiomóvel ? Telecomunicações, SA? and ?Repart ? Sistemas de Comunicação de Recursos Partilhados, SA?, which are held by the same direct shareholder; a process to merge the two operations is under way.

To provide service, both use an analogic system (MPT 1327) parallel to digital TETRA technology (whose additional use was authorised in 1999). This technology, originally considered the most advantageous, did not evolve as expected and the operators have been confronted with problems such as the lack of affordable terminal equipment, high network equipment costs and a limited number of equipment distributors.

At the end of March 2003 there were 73 base stations licensed to provide mobile trunking service, 9 of which with TETRA technology.

This situation led Radiomóvel to request authorisation in 2002 to use another technological system to manage the radio network by code division multiple access (CDMA) in narrowband, which was granted. The start of use of this technology was expected in 2003, along with the progressive migration of subscribers positioned in the analogic network and/or in the digital TETRA network to the new digital technological platform. But Radiomóvel submitted a request to postpone by one year the start of commercial operations. This request was the basis for ICP-ANACOM?s launch of a public consultation on the matter in 2003.

Paging service

The provision of this service in Portugal was discontinued in the third quarter of 2002 with the deactivation of the networks still operating: TMN ceased providing this service on 31 July on the mainland and in the Madeira Autonomous Region; PT Comunicações ceased activity in the Azores Autonomous Region on 31 August; and Vodafone had already ceased providing this service on 31 October 2001.

The disappearance of paging service is related to the strong penetration of land mobile service, which by means of written messages (SMS) via GSM began providing a service that directly replaced paging service.