MCA with a com­plete pic­ture on the EC re­ports on broad­band

The Malta Business Weekly - - NEWS -

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.

Tech­ni­cal find­ings:

• 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.

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