Internet access service at a fixed location - 1st half of 2021

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Executive summary

88% of households have fixed broadband

At the end of the 1st half of 2021 (1H2021), the penetration of fixed broadband among residential customers in Portugal was reported at 88.0 per 100 private households, rising 5.4 percentage points from the same period of 2020. The reported growth resulted not only from an increase in the number of accesses, but also from the statistical effect of the decrease in the number of private households (-1.9%).

Fixed broadband has seen an increase of 4.3% over the last twelve months

Compared to the same six-month period of 2020, the number of fixed broadband accesses increased by 173 thousand (+4.3%) to a total of 4.2 million accesses.

Optical fibre was the main form of fixed broadband Internet access, making up 57.7% of total accesses (an increase of 5.1 percentage points versus the 1st half of 2020). FTTH was also the form of access making the largest contribution to the growth reported in the number of accesses. In the last 12 months, the number of accesses supported over optical fibre increased by 309 thousand accesses (+14.5%).

The number of accesses supported over cable TV networks decreased by 0.6%, representing 28.3% of the total (-1.4 percentage points from 12 months earlier). ADSL accesses continued in a downward trend with replacement by next generation accesses (decreasing by 28.7%). ADSL represented 7.3% of total accesses (-3.4 percentage points). The number of fixed accesses supported over mobile networks decreased by 1.8% to make up 6.6% of all accesses (-0.4 percentage points).

Traffic growth due to COVID-19

Total fixed broadband Internet traffic increased by 39.2% compared to the same six-month period of 2020. Average monthly traffic per access was 247 GB, 33.1% more than in the first six months of 2020 when the effects of COVID-19 were already being felt.

Had the pandemic not occurred, it is estimated that the average fixed data traffic per access would have grown by 21.5%, versus actual growth in 1H2021 of 33.1%. The overall effect of COVID-19 over the six quarters in which the effects of the pandemic were felt was, on average, 38.5% per quarter1.

Provider shares

In the fixed broadband Internet access service markets, there are four providers with a relevant share of subscribers: MEO (40.7%), Grupo NOS (34.6%), Vodafone (21.0%) and NOWO (3.3%). Compared to the same period of 2020, Vodafone was the provider reporting the largest increase in its share of accesses (+0.8 percentage points), while MEO was the provider that acquired the most customers in net terms (+0.3 percentage points). The share of subscribers reported by Grupo NOS and NOWO Groups decreased by 0.8 percentage points and 0.3 percentage points, respectively.

If only residential accesses are considered, MEO had the highest share of subscribers (39.0%), followed by Grupo NOS (36.8%), Vodafone (20.1%), and NOWO (3.8%). Vodafone and MEO saw their shares of subscribers increase by 0.9 percentage points and 0.2 percentage points, respectively, while the shares of Grupo NOS and NOWO decreased by 0.8 percentage points and 0.3 percentage points, respectively.

As regards fixed broadband traffic, MEO reported a share of 38.9%, followed by Grupo NOS with 34.7% and Vodafone with 23.0%. NOWO's share was 1.9%. Compared to the same period of 2020, Grupo NOS was the provider whose share of traffic increased the most (+0.6 percentage points). MEO and NOWO both saw a reduction of 0.2 percentage points in their share of total traffic, while the share reported by Vodafone remained constant.

1 The effect of COVID-19 cannot be calculated based on the difference between the variation that actually occurred and the estimate of the variation that would have occurred if it were not for the pandemic. In fact, these values are calculated as variations in relation to the previous year, while estimates of the effect of COVID-19 are based on a comparison with the variation that would have occurred during the period of the pandemic if the pandemic had not taken place.