Growth in mobile service stalls for the first time in 6 years

/ Updated on 29.07.2011

There were about 16.45 million active mobile stations associated with post-paid tariff plans, prepaid plans and combined/hybrid plans at the end of 1st quarter 2011 (1Q11):  With a decline of 0.1 per cent compared to the previous quarter, this is the first drop reported for this indicator in 6 years. Of these stations, approximately 13.3 million (80.6 percent) were actually used in the last month of 1Q11, representing a decline of 1.3 percentage points compared to 4th quarter 2010 (4Q10).

During the quarter being reported, excluding cards/modems actually and exclusively used for mobile broadband Internet access, the number of mobile stations/user devices which were active and actually used in 1Q11 totalled about 12 million, approximately 179 thousand fewer than in 4Q10.

In terms of the different subscription models to the mobile service (MS), prepaid plans accounted for the majority of mobile stations (71.8 percent), in line with 2010. Post-paid plans made up 14.6 percent of the total, 2.4 percentage points less than in 2010. Combined/hybrid plans accounted for about 13.6 per cent of the total.

At the end of March 2011, penetration of the MS was reported at 154.7 mobile accesses per 100 inhabitants. According to information referring to 4Q10, the penetration rate reported in Portugal (154.9 per 100 inhabitants) remains above the average of all European Union (EU) countries, which is reported at 128.6 per 100 inhabitants. However, if one only considers mobile stations with actual use, penetration in Portugal would be close to the EU average.

With respect to broadband services, at the end of 1Q11, there were about 10, 5 million eligible users, in line with the previous quarter. The number of active users who actually used characteristic 3rd generation services (video-telephony, broadband data transmission, Mobile TV, etc.) declined by 3.9 percent compared to 4Q10, to 3.9 million.

Users eligible to use broadband services (UMTS / HSPA) represented 63.7 percent of total active mobile stations, while active users constituted 29.5 percent of all mobile stations with actual use.

Of the total number of users of broadband services registering traffic in the last month of the period being reported, about 31.4 percent were users of the mobile broadband Internet access service via cards/modem. This type of equipment is used by almost half of all active users of broadband Internet access.

Analyzing traffic in 1Q11, it was found that around 2.16 billion calls were made, 4.1 percent fewer than in the previous quarter. In recent years, there has been a sharp decline in the number of calls made during each year’s 1st quarter compared to the previous quarter. However, the drop reported in 1Q11 was slightly steeper than would be expected given the historical trend and estimated seasonal effects.

In comparison to 1st quarter 2010, an increase of 6.5 percent was reported in the number of calls, driven mainly by the growth of so-called on-net calls, which represented 71.4 percent of total originated traffic - 4.1 percentage points more than in 1Q08, the period immediately preceding the introduction of plans that allow free calls between subscribers.

In the period being reported, the number of calls received on the mobile network totalled 2.11 billion, representing a decrease of 4 percent over the previous quarter and an increase of 7.6 percent over the first quarter of 2010.

In 1Q11, more than 6.5 billion text messages (SMS) were sent, representing a decline of 4.3 percent over the previous quarter, which is within the forecast range resulting from the historical trend and estimated seasonal effect. On the other hand, compared to the same period of 2010, there was an increase of 2.4 percent in the number of SMS sent. The number of added-value messages exceeded 22 million, which is equivalent to 0.3 percent of all SMS sent.

With regard to multimedia messaging, users of the mobile service sent 35.3 million MMS during the quarter, 3.6 per cent more than in the previous period. On a year-on-year basis, the number of multimedia messages sent by users of this service increased by 39.2 percent.

In 1Q11, around 887 thousand video calls were made, 15.8 percent fewer than in the previous quarter. Conversation time associated with these calls declined by 5.3 percent over the previous quarter.

There were 43,600 users of the mobile TV service (1.1 per cent of mobile stations with actual use of 3G services), representing a decrease of 13.2% compared to 4Q10.

Consult the statistical report: