Table of Contents
Malta's main telcos GO and Melita sold to outside interests
Despite its small size, Malta's telecom sector is among the most advanced in Europe. Mobile and broadband penetration are both relatively high, while ongoing investments in networks are providing customers with a range of bundled services. The sector is also stimulated by regulatory measures designed to increase competition and to reduce consumer prices, as also to pave the way towards a national FttP telecom network. The regulator has keenly promoted this infrastructure to develop the eCommerce sector, conscious that the country's geographic location and economy dominated by micro-businesses restricts the potential for companies to make effective use of online sales.
The broadband market remains largely controlled by two operators, with Melita retaining a monopoly on cable services and GO commanding a near complete dominance in the DSL market. Alternative broadband players have only a small share of the DSL market. An island-wide WiMAX service is provided by Vodafone, while Melita also operates an extensive Wi-Fi mesh network. GO is currently investing in an extensive FttP network, while an all-fibre backhaul network also supports its LTE infrastructure.
The telecom market generated 182.3 million in revenue in 2015, accounting for 2.4% of GDP. Investment in telecoms networks has been maintained, though in recent years this was mainly made up of investment in mobile infrastructure which compensated for lower investment by other operators providing fixed-line services. However, since 2015 GO has embarked on a program to develop a wide-spread FttP network, and so provide a platform to develop services in future.
In the mobile market Vodafone Malta, GO Mobile and Melita Mobile have been joined by a few MVNOs though these have only a small market share. The sector remains dominated by GO Mobile and Vodafone, which together control about 85% of the market by subscribers. These operators offer quad-play services including mobile combinations of voice, cable TV, videostreaming and telephony, which as bundles make it hard for other operators to gain a foothold other than within narrow markets. Nevertheless, a sympathetic regulatory regime is having a marked effect on operator behaviour as they struggle to retain existing customers in an increasingly competitive market.
The key issue for coming years will be the continuing effort by the regulator to encourage a national broadband network through developing regulations attractive to investors, and so maintain momentum in one of Europe's smallest markets.
Market penetration rates in Malta's telecoms sector 2016 (e)
Penetration of telecoms services: | Penetration
Fixed-line telephony | 51%
Fixed broadband | 39.4%
Mobile SIM (population) | %
GO acquired by Tunisie Telecom;
Apax France and Fortino Capital acquire Melita;
GO doubles capacity on international submarine cable links;
Vodafone providing majority population coverage with LTE;
Government supporting a national FttP network;
GO launches a 500Mb/s fibre-based service;
Malta's first VoD service launched by Melita;
Melita extends 250Mb/s broadband service;
Vodafone Malta, GO and Melita express interest in 800MHz spectrum;
Report update includes the regulator's market data updates to July 2016, telcos' operating and financial data to Q3 2016, recent market developments.
Companies mentioned in this report:
Vodafone, GO, Melita, SIS, Ozone, Redtouch Fone, PING.
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