MCA with a complete picture on the EC reports on broadband
Three reports have been published earlier this week by the European Commission on broadband quality, broadband prices and broadband coverage.
These reports are benchmarking the performance of different countries in relation to the aspects being addressed.
Price and quality considerations:
• The MCA notes that the competitive conditions in Malta have led to a consistent decline in prices paid by Maltese consumers for broadband services. The relevant report in fact indicates that Malta features amongst those countries that recorded a drop in prices across all bands of broadband products that have been identified.
• The report methodology makes reference to speeds but not to download limits, which usually affect prices, particularly for lower end products. In most of the internet packages that are offered in Malta, there is no set quota on the download limits. This situation may be very different in other jurisdictions, where the consumer may be asked to pay a relatively low fee for a very limited amount of download; once this maximum amount is exceeded, subscribers are billed on a much higher basis.
• The drop in prices in Malta has been significant (approx. 33%) for broadband products supporting download speeds of 30Mbps but less than 100Mbps in the years 2014 and 2015. This is a particularly positive development, given that almost 57% of local fixed broadband customers have a connection at home supporting 30Mbps+ download speeds.
• More generally, the MCA notes that local consumers are increasingly opting to purchase their fixed broadband service with unlimited download as part of a bundle. The proportion of fixed broadband subscribers in a bundle has in fact climbed from 56% in June 2014 to 71% in June 2015. The issue of bundle uptake assumes particular relevance as stated above in the context of price developments for fixed broadband as bundled subscriptions typically enable consumers to avail of discounts on the final price they pay for the service.
• Prices quoted are not the actual prices paid by local consumers, but rather prices based on Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) standard. In the case of Malta, this standard adjusts prices upwards by almost 30% in the process of data comparison.
• The relevant report makes reference to a number of technical parameters. The main findings of the report are based on a study carried out by SamKnows during October 2014. In the case of Malta, the study was based on a sample size of 74 users. When one considers that during the same period the number of internet subscriptions was in excess of 151,000, the sample size used to carry out this study cannot capture the complete picture of the Maltese subscriber base.
• The report also makes reference to the latency issue. It should be noted that there is no direct relationship between speed and latency. One should note that from Quality of Service reporting that the MCA requests from local service providers, it is evident that there are no latency issues in local service provisioning. This can be confirmed by the number of information society services being offered from Malta that are highly dependent on high speed, low latency, efficient and reliable connectivity.
A very important aspect found in the Commission’s third report relates to internet broadband coverage. Malta is the only country in Europe with virtually complete high speed fixed and mobile broadband coverage to all households. This is also acknowledged in the latest Digital Agenda Scoreboard report in connectivity where Malta ranks amongst the top ten EU countries and above the EU average.
The MCA remains committed to promoting a competitive and sustainable environment in order to ensure ongoing improvements in quality and value to the public, as well as facilitating the adoption of advanced and innovative technology investments in Malta.