Apps like WhatsApp are inflicting carnage on mobile revenues in Ireland

8 Jun 2017

WhatsApp logos. Image: Ink Drop/Shutterstock

Text message use falls 16pc while data rates surge almost 69pc.

The carnage OTT services like WhatsApp, Uber and Facebook are inflicting on mobile networks’ traditional revenue strongholds of voice and text messages is becoming painfully clear, as seen in the latest ComReg quarterly report.

According to the report for Q1 2017, total voice minutes were 2.7pc lower in the first quarter of 2017 than in Q1 2016.

Future Human

Mobile minutes form the majority of voice minutes in Ireland at 76pc, with the remainder being landline calls.

Mobile voice minutes were down 1.3pc in the first quarter, while fixed-line voice minutes fell 5pc.

On a monthly basis, an average mobile voice subscriber used 210 minutes (down 0.7pc), sent 87 text messages (down 16.1pc year-on-year) and used 3.7GB of data (up 68pc year-on-year).

Mobile average revenue per user (ARPU) was €22.11 per month, down from €24.12 per month last year.

ComReg suggested that the decline in mobile ARPU reflects a number of factors, including the selling of bundled mobile and fixed broadband and TV products, and the reductions in mobile roaming and termination rates.

Surge in broadband speeds

There has been a surge in broadband speeds in Ireland, with more than two-thirds (67pc) of all fixed broadband subscriptions equal to or greater than 30Mbps.

This by no means takes away from the fact that approximately 900,000 homes require intervention under the National Broadband Plan. Some 300,000 of these – or 890 communities – will be addressed by Eir on a commercial basis through a deal recently struck with the Irish Government.

The latest quarterly figures from ComReg indicate that there are some 1.3m fixed broadband connections in the Republic of Ireland, a 0.9pc increase in the quarter, and up by 3.9pc compared with the first quarter of 2016.

The report indicates the estimated fixed broadband penetration rate in Ireland is 70.4pc, up from 67.8pc in Q1 2016.

In the first quarter of 2017, 79.2pc of all fixed broadband subscriptions were equal to or greater than 10Mbps.

More than two-thirds – 67pc – of all subscriptions are equal or greater than 30Mbps, compared with 58.1pc in the first quarter of 2016.

On the mobile front, ComReg indicates that 49.2pc of all mobile subscribers in Ireland are now actively using 4G networks, up from 41.9pc.

ComReg estimates that 78.1pc of all mobile data in Ireland is now carried over 4G networks.

The news comes just weeks after ComReg revealed the results of its 5G spectrum auction, which saw Imagine, Airspan, Vodafone, Three and Meteor bid successfully for the 3.6GHz spectrum band, netting €78m for the Irish exchequer.

WhatsApp logos. Image: Ink Drop/Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years