Despite its small size, Malta’s telecom sector is among the most advanced in Europe, with high mobile and broadband penetration rates and a strategy in place to capitalise on infrastructure to develop e-commerce opportunities.
The sector has also been stimulated by regulatory measures designed to reduce consumer prices, pave the way towards a national FttP telecom network and increase competition. To this end the Competition Authority has examined the proposed merger between Vodafone Malta and Melita, a move which would allow the merged entity to provide a more effective challenge to the incumbent telco GO but which would essentially create a market duopoly, given that other licensed operators have a very small market share.
The broadband market is controlled by Melita, which retains a monopoly on cable services, and GO, commanding a near complete dominance in the DSL and fibre segments. 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, which covered about 50,000 premises by mid-2017, while an all-fibre backhaul network also supports its LTE infrastructure.
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 late 2017 the company announced plans to invest €100 million over five years, partly in LTE and fibre infrastructure as also in upgrading capacity on submarine cables.
The mobile market is dominated by Vodafone Malta, GO Mobile and Melita Mobile, with Redtouch Fone the only active MVNO. GO Mobile and Vodafone together commanded 80% of the market as of June 2017.
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.
Vodafone, GO, Melita, SIS, Ozone, Redtouch Fone, PING.
Number of pages 39
Last updated 8 Nov 2017
Analyst: Henry Lancaster
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