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2012 Telecom Monitor: mobile operators report lower turnovers because of decline in text messaging volumes

  • Fewer text messages and voice minutes result in lower turnovers of mobile operators. Data usage continues to increase.
  • 65 percent of fixed-telephony connections is digital, 10 percent is based on ISDN, and 25 percent is based on traditional PSTN networks.
  • Average data speed of broadband plans is rising.
  • Growth of digital television connections is slowing down.
  • Broadband, television and fixed telephony are increasingly taken out in packages.

These are some of the striking trends revealed by the 2012 figures for the telecommunication sector, which the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) today published. Based on data from the most important players in the telecom industry, this Telecom Monitor gives an overview of the trends in mobile services, fixed telephony, broadband, television, business network services, and packages.

Mobile services

At the end of 2012, the total number of connections over mobile broadband was over 10 million: 9.1 million mobile phones and 1.2 million tablets and dongles. The total number of connections that are used specifically for mobile broadband, such as dongles and tablets, remained stable in 2012. In addition, the number of mobile phones slightly increased by 252,000.

The retail turnover of mobile operators in 2012 dropped because of lower turnovers generated from text messages and voice minutes. Even though turnover from data usage increased, it was not enough to offset the lower turnovers from text messages and voice minutes. Compared with 2011, total voice minute volume in 2012 dropped to 22.5 billion minutes (-1 percent), total text messaging volume dropped to 7.8 billion messages (-29 percent) and total data usage increased to 22.7 petabyte (+60 percent).

Fixed telephony

2012 started with a decline in voice minutes over fixed telephony, but, in the fourth quarter, fixed-telephony voice minutes increased by 9 percent to 5.4 billion. Calls to landline numbers (+10 percent) and to mobile numbers (+5 percent) in the Netherlands increased, but so did international calls (+6 percent).

The number of fixed-telephony connections rose by 86,000 compared with the third quarter, and now stands at 7.2 million connections. The share of digital connections in relation to the share of analog connections is rising. In the fourth quarter of 2012, 25 percent of all connections are based on the traditional PSTN network, 10 percent over ISDN and 65 percent is based on digital voice-over-broadband (VoB).

Broadband

At the end of 2012, the total number of broadband subscriptions was 6.7 million. With 61,000 new subscriptions, the growth was higher than in the third quarter. The number of DSL connections decreased by 30,000 to 3.3 million, while the number of cable connections increased by 33,000 to 3.0 million. At the end of the fourth quarter, almost 400,000 households and businesses had broadband access over fiber optic. The increase of 57,000 fiber optic subscriptions was higher than in previous quarters. The number of households, too, that are connected to fiber optic networks increases every quarter. At the end of 2012, 1.4 million household had such connections.

Besides the shift from DSL subscriptions to cable and fiber optic, the average data speed of subscriptions is getting higher and higher. In the third quarter, 66 percent of all subscriptions were faster than 10 Mbps, while 35 percent was even faster than 30 Mbps. Despite these developments in usage, infrastructure and data speeds, the relative market shares have remained unchanged.

Television

Of all 7.5 million television subscriptions, 81 percent of households have digital television, and there are almost 5.0 million cable subscriptions. About 1.3 million households receive analog cable television only. With 21,000 new connections, the number of digital subscriptions over cable increased less sharply than in the first half of 2012, but by as much as in the third quarter.

Packages

At the end of 2012, 5.1 million households take out two or more services from the same provider. With 3.3 million subscriptions, the most popular type of subscription is a triple or quadruple play package, which consists of broadband internet access, television and fixed telephony, and sometimes with mobile services as well.

When looking at the individual products, broadband is added to subscriptions the most in 77 percent of all subscriptions. Fixed telephony is added in 62 percent of all subscription packages, while television is added in 55 percent of them. At the end of 2012, all products were most often taken out in a triple play package.

Business network services

For their secure, internal data communication and telecommunication between different locations, businesses use business network services. These include services such as leased lines, virtual private networks (VPNs) and dark fiber (fiber optic that has not yet been used). Compared with the third quarter, the total number of connections for business network services slightly decreased to approximately 153,000. The increase of the share of data communication (such as VPNs) within the market for business network services is continuing, which is at the expense of the share of traditional leased lines. At this point, 78 percent of business network services consist of data communication, and only 16 percent of traditional leased lines. The remaining share concerns dark fiber. The number of retail and wholesale fiber optic connections is increasing.

About the Telecom Monitor of the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets

ACM releases the Telecom Monitor every quarter. Previously, this was the Structural Market Monitor of OPTA, the Netherlands Independent Post and Telecommunications Authority. On April 1, 2013, OPTA joined forces with the Netherlands Competition Authority and the Netherlands Consumer Authority, creating the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM).

In this Telecom Monitor, several definitions have been changed since the Structural Market Monitor. Since the fourth quarter of 2012, television subscriptions are reported based on the number of unique subscriptions instead of the number of connections. This change has resulted in a lower number of subscriptions because some providers offer various television subscriptions in a package. As several internet service providers (ISPs) have been integrated by KPN since the fourth quarter, television services of several independent ISPs are no longer reported in the Telecom Monitor. Furthermore, a more strict definition of package is now used. Under the old definition, a package was understood to be multiple services on the same address. Under the new definition, a package is understood to be multiple services on the same bill.