Increase reported in telephone accesses in 4th quarter

The total number of main telephone accesses installed at customer request as at the end of the fourth quarter of 2009 stood at around 4.260 million at the end of 4th quarter 2009, corresponding to a penetration rate of approximately 40.1 accesses per 100 inhabitants. Compared to the previous quarter, there was a 1.9% increase in the number of accesses. The decline in analogue accesses and in basic and fractioned ISDN accesses was offset by the growth reported in accesses using other technologies, especially VoIP. Accesses supported using GSM/UMTS and optical fibre (FTTH/B) also contributed to report increases.

In annual terms, an increase of 6.7% is reported over the same period of 2008 in the number of accesses installed at customer request. The increase seen in the number of accesses results above all from sign-up to multiple play offers.

Most of the installed accesses continued to belong to companies of the Portugal Telecom Group (Grupo PT) operating in these markets.  At the end of the quarter, Grupo PT held about 62.1% of all accesses installed at customer request, one percentage point less than at the end of the previous quarter and 6.4 percentage points less than a year earlier.

There were around 3.3 million fixed telephone service customers using direct access, an increase of 1.9% on the previous quarter and an increase of 6.4% on the same quarter of 2008. This trend was significantly driven by packaged offers which combine fixed telephone and cable television and/or Internet as well as the offers from alternative providers based on GSM/UMTS technology. 

The increase reported in the number of customers occurred alongside a decline in the number of direct access customers of Grupo PT (-0.2% compared to the previous quarter and -3.6% over the fourth quarter of 2008).

The number of indirect access customers using operator pre-selection fell by 6.3%, to 141 thousand, the lowest level since 2001. 

The number of nomadic VoIP customers declined by 4.9% over the previous quarter to around 112.8 thousand active customers.  Since the beginning of 2009, the number of nomadic VoIP customers has been in a downward trend. This decline can be put down to the migration by one operator of a significant set of its customers to other types of voice telephony solutions. 

Grupo PT’s share of direct access customers has been falling since 2000. In this quarter a further decline was reported of 1.2 percentage points over the previous quarter and 6 percentage points over the same quarter of 2008, to 57.8% at the end of the quarter. This drop in the share of direct access customers results essentially from new offers based on access technologies distinct from the traditional Fixed Telephone Service, especially bundled offers.

Total voice traffic originating on the fixed network during the 4th quarter totalled around 2.1 billion minutes, rising by 7.7% compared to the previous quarter. Year-on-year an increase of 3.7% was reported in the number of minutes.  This increase in traffic is driven by fixed-fixed traffic and is associated with alternative platforms and services, especially VoIP. Some of the offers involved include free calls between fixed network numbers.

It is noted that the growth in traffic occurred alongside a fall in fixed-mobile and international traffic.

In terms of traffic associated with the nomadic VoIP service, it is reported that its weight as a proportion of total traffic fell compared to the previous period, making up 3% in terms of minutes. It is noted that for the second time in a row, since its launch, the nomadic VoIP service has seen a fall in traffic. 

Looking at indirect access, it can be seen that the total number of voice minutes originated through indirect access was 1 percentage point less than the figure reported in the previous quarter and 2.9 percentage points less than in the same quarter of 2008.

During the quarter being reported, the voice traffic shares of Grupo PT continued to trend downwards - 60.1%, 1.6 percentage points less than reported in the previous quarter.