Fibre Optic customers double in 4th quarter

In 2009, there were around 3.8 million users with mobile broadband Internet access in Portugal, 59% more than in the fourth quarter of 2008; while there were around 1.9 million customers with fixed internet access, of which approximately 1.87 million had broadband access.

Of these mobile broadband users, 2.17 million were reported as active (57% of the total) during the last quarter of the year, 9% more than in the previous quarter and 87% more year-on-year.

In the case of the fixed Internet access service, the total number of customers (around 1.9 million) grew by around 3.1% in the last quarter over the previous quarter and by 13% year-on-year. The number of dial-up access customers continued to decline, falling to 33 thousand, 20% less than in the fourth quarter of 2008.

The number of customers of broadband services reached 1.87 million (98% of the total), 59 thousand or 3.2% more than in the previous quarter.

ADSL remains the principal broadband Internet access technology, now representing 57% of the total. Cable modem is used by 40.2% of fixed broadband customers. During the fourth quarter of 2009, cable modem attracted around 37% of subscribers during the period in net terms, with ADSL accounting for 34%.

The “others” category, which includes offers based on leased circuits, FWA and optical fibre, and which represents 3% of all customers, has grown sharply, in excess of 40%. This can be put down, above all, to offers based on optical fibre.

During the fourth quarter, there were around 30 thousand customers with optical fibre access (FTTH/B), double the figure reported for the previous quarter. Around 95% of these customers were residential.

As far as market share of fixed broadband access is concerned, Grupo PT’s share of customers stood at 44.5%, 1.2 percentage points more than in the previous quarter - , followed by Grupo ZON with 32.2% of the market.

A net increase was reported over the fourth quarter of around 54 thousand fixed broadband customers. Among the operators reporting the greatest absolute gain in customers, note is made of Grupo PT and Grupo ZON, with gains of 50 thousand and 17 thousand customers respectively. It is noted that Cabovisão increased its number of customers by 3.4 thousand.

Broadband Internet access traffic grew by around 13.5% over the period. The growth rate of fixed traffic outpaced the growth seen in the number of customers. Grupo ZON/TV Cabo reported the highest share of traffic (40%), followed by Grupo PT (35.2%).

Meanwhile, it can be seen that each customer generated an average of 20.4 GB of traffic per month, 1.6 GB more than in the third quarter.

Mobile Internet access traffic generated (in GB) grew by 22% over the previous quarter, 15 percentage points more than in the previous quarter. Traffic generated by active mobile broadband customers (an average of 0.81 GB per customer per month) is significantly lower than the average reported for fixed broadband traffic.

This difference between traffic levels generated by fixed and mobile broadband customers is due to the traffic limits included in mobile broadband offers, which are much lower than those of fixed broadband, to the prices charged with respect to each technology and also to the different user and usage profiles associated with the two types of broadband Internet access.

In the fourth quarter of 2009, the individualised revenues of the fixed Internet access service (accumulated) totalled around 426.5 million euros. This revenue is derived from stand-alone and multiple play offers with a separable Internet component. Revenues from bundles which include the Internet service where revenue cannot be individualised totalled around 1.39 million euros.

Meanwhile revenue derived from the mobile Internet access service, as at the end of 2009, reached 326 million euros, 24% more than the value reported for the same period of the previous year.

The penetration rate of broadband Internet access stood at 17.6 per 100 inhabitants for fixed access and at 35.7 per 100 inhabitants for mobile access.

In the case of fixed access, this figure increased 0.6 percentage points over the previous quarter, being around 2.2 percentage points higher than the figure recorded for the fourth quarter of 2008. The penetration rate for mobile broadband grew by 3.3 percentage points over the quarter.