Portugal reports 15.5 million mobile service

At the end of the 3rd quarter of 2009 there were 15.5 million Mobile Telephone Service subscribers in Portugal, a 3.3% increase compared to the previous quarter and a 6.9% increase compared to the same quarter of the previous year.

The weight of post-paid cards, with a total of 4.256 million, represents 27.4% of total subscribers, having risen by more than 5 percentage points in the last two years. This trend can be put down, among other factors, to the sign up of subscribers to data services based on UMTS which typically involve the payment of a monthly fee

At the end of September, the penetration rate for this service reached 146.2 per 100 inhabitants.

Interpretation of the figures given for the number of subscribers and the MTS penetration rate should take account of the fact that there are users who have more than one card for accessing the service (according to the latest survey conducted by ICP-ANACOM, around 10% of MTS customers had more than one active card) and that there are a lot of SIM cards used exclusively for Internet access and data services. In addition, there are active cards used in machines, equipment and vehicles (e.g. mobile payment terminals, alarm equipment, security, telemetry and telematics, etc.), and cards in corporate use.

In this quarter, the number of users with access to UMTS services surpassed 5.7 million. The number of active users totalled around 2.3 million, up 32.9% on the previous quarter. Year-on-year the number of active users of UMTS services rose by 123.6%.

The jump in the number of active users this quarter is due, above all, to the launch of new Internet access offers with a “by the day” tariff.  One of these daily offers has the particularity that no prior subscription to the offer  is required – on beginning a session, customers who have not signed up to another Internet tariff will be charged automatically according to the daily tariff. The data seems to indicate that these tariffs have driven increased use of the Internet service on mobile telephones (previously tariffs were based on traffic volume).

Potential users of UMTS/HSPA services represent 36.8% of the total number of MTS subscribers, while active users constitute 15.3% of mobile subscribers.

During the same period, over 2 billion calls were made, 6% more than in the previous quarter. The increase in originated traffic, which grew at a faster rate than the number of subscribers, was driven by intra-network traffic. The growth seen in this type of traffic reinforces the reported trend, which may result from the appearance of specific offers in the market which allow free calls to be made between subscribers within the operator’s network.

In comparison to the third quarter of 2008, there was an increase of 9.4% in the number of calls.

The number of conversation minutes originating on mobile networks totalled 4.634 billion minutes, an increase of 7.5% over the previous quarter and an increase of 14.8% over the same period of 2008, driven by the same factors as those behind the increase in the number of calls.

The average duration of calls originating on the mobile network during this quarter continued to grow, reaching 130 seconds per call - around 6 seconds more than the duration reported during the same period of 2008.

Meanwhile 6.6 billion text messages were sent during the period, 2.6% more than in the previous quarter and 8.3% more than in the same quarter of 2008.  The average number of messages sent per month by each subscriber was reported at 142.

At the same time, 30.6 million MMS messages were sent, 36% more than in the previous period and 39.7% more than in the same quarter of 2008

1.4 million video-calls were made during the quarter, 6.6% more than in the previous quarter. The conversation time associated with these calls also increased over the previous quarter (0.9%).