Mobile telephone service has 15.9 million users in 2009

At the end of the 4th quarter of 2009 there were 15.929 million Mobile Telephone Service (MTS) subscribers in Portugal, which is a 2.4% increase compared to the previous quarter and a 6.5% increase compared to the same quarter of the previous year.

The weight of post-paid cards as a proportion of total subscribers reached 27.2% during the quarter being reported, having risen by more than 4 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 December, the penetration rate of this service had risen to 149.9 per 100 inhabitants.

Interpretation of the figures given for MTS subscribers and the 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. Note should also be made of the fact that there are SIM cards used exclusively for Internet access and data services, as well as active cards used in machines, equipment and vehicles (mobile payment terminals, alarm equipment, security, telemetry and telematics, etc.) and cards in corporate use.

At the end of December, the number of users with access to UMTS services surpassed 5.9 million. The number of active users totalled around 2.5 million, up 8.7% on the previous quarter. Year-on-year the number of active users of UMTS services rose by 101%.

Potential users of UMTS/HSPA services represent 37.6% of the total number of MTS subscribers, while active users constitute 16.2% of mobile subscribers.

During the fourth quarter over 2 billion calls were made by MTS subscribers, 1.6% less than in the previous quarter. The fourth quarter is usually marked by a drop in traffic compared to the prior quarter. In comparison to the fourth quarter of 2008, an increase of 7.2% is reported for the number of calls. 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.

Over the same period, the number of calls received on the mobile network was over 2 billion, a value which represents a fall of 1.1% over the previous quarter and an increase of 6.9% year-on-year.

Fixed-mobile traffic fell by 14%, compared to the same period of 2008, strengthening the trend evident in recent years.

In the quarter, MTS subscribers made an average of 44 calls each month, two less than in the previous quarter. Around 31 of these calls made were made to the network of the originating operator.

The number of conversation minutes originating on mobile networks totalled 4.6 billion minutes, an increase of 1.1% over the previous quarter. Compared to the same period of the previous year, the number of minutes rose by 15.4%, around 8 percentage points above the growth rate in the number of subscribers.

The increasing weight of intra-network traffic, which now represents over three quarters of registered traffic, must be noted insofar as it may suggest that society is not getting the expected benefits resulting from the positive externalities associated with the possibility of interconnecting communications networks.

The average duration of calls originated on the mobile network during this quarter maintains its upward trend, with an average of 134 second reported per call, around 10 seconds more than was reported for the same period of 2008.

During the period being reported, 6.3 billion text messages were reported. This figure is 3% less than the figure reported for the previous quarter. The average number of messages sent per month by each subscriber was reported at 133.

24.2 million MMS messages were sent, 20.8% less than in the previous period, but 20.6% more than during the same period of 2008.

Meanwhile, it is reported that 1.2 million video-calls were made, 14.8% less than in the previous quarter. The conversation time associated with these calls also fell, by around 13.7% over the previous quarter.