Man using phone / Unsplash

Malta’s rise in mobile subscriptions is not solely down to the increase in the country’s population, as there are a number of other factors, the Malta Communications Authority (MCA) has told BusinessNow.mt.

This comes after the MCA on Monday released a report highlighting market trends between the first quarter of 2020 (Q1 2020) and the first quarter of 2024 (Q1 2024).

One of the major findings of the report was that by the end of Q1 2024, there were 754,926 mobile telephony subscribers in Malta, a 5.8 per cent year-on-year increase.

This was primarily driven by a year-on-year rise of 54,737 post-paid subscriptions, which, by March 2024, accounted for over half (51.2 per cent) of all mobile telephony subscriptions. This was the first time since data started being compiled that there were more post-paid than pre-paid plan subscribers, as customers now give greater importance to mobile data.

These figures are understandable, especially when considering Malta’s rapidly expanding population. Data published by the National Statistics Office (NSO) on Wednesday noted that the estimated total population of Malta and Gozo at the end of 2023 stood at 563,443, 3.9 per cent more than the previous year.

When contacted by BusinessNow.mt for further details, the MCA stated that while Malta’s rising population is a “contributing factor” to this increase in subscriptions, it is not the sole reason.

The authority stated that other elements need to be considered, such as technological advancements, societal changes, economic growth, and the expanding role of mobile devices in our daily lives.

The figures note that mobile subscriptions are now significantly outweighing Malta’s population, a trend that is also taking place across the world. According to studies, there were almost 8.9 billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide as of 2023, far beyond the 7.9 billion global population at the time.

One of the major changes that has taken place in recent years, both locally and globally, is the increased reliance on mobile data, with users wanting to remain constantly connected to the internet, not having to rely on a Wi-Fi connection.

Given the prevalence of 5G technology, offering reduced latency and increased bandwidth, this shift comes as no surprise.

The MCA report also stated that mobile data volumes surged upwards by 41 per cent in Q1 2024. This is in sharp contrast to the volume of local outgoing voice calls, which dropped by 0.8 per cent.

The MCA told BusinessNow.mt that this could be partly attributed to the growing demand for different over-the-top (OTT) interpersonal communication platforms. These are applications that deliver streamed content through inter-connected devices, such as WhatsApp and Messenger.

The drop in the number of calls made is also indicative of this, as users are seemingly more inclined to use other means for quick communication, such as messaging. In fact, despite the decrease in calls, outgoing voice traffic minutes still increased by 3.6 million minutes year-over-year, showing that subscribers are overall making fewer but longer calls.

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