Changes in the Irish mobile market

woman using smartphone

In June, we covered the changing trends in the mobile market that had been identified by Comreg for Q1 2015. With the latest report with data from Q2 2015 published, we again have a look at competition amongst mobile networks, how Irish customers are using their devices and what they are paying.

Market Share

mobile network market share q1 2015 to q2 2015

Vodafone possess the greatest market share of users, with 38.5% of all Irish mobile subscriptions on the big red network who maintained the same market share percentage as in Q1 2015. Three Group possess the second greatest market share with 31.7% of the market, down only 0.2% from Q1. Eircom Group Mobile (including Eir & Meteor) possess the third greatest market share of 20.6%, down by only a slight 0.1% from Q1. 

Of the MVNO's, Tescomobile possesses the greatest market share, with 6.4%, up 0.3% from Q1, while Lycamobile remain steady on 2.4%, with OAO's accounting for only 0.3% of the market. Tesco's gain is reflective of the last number of years, where their competitive offerings, and extensive footprint of stores nationwide continues to drive growth. 

Data

percentage of irish mobile subscribers accessing 'advanced data services'

The latest figures from Comreg indicate that 73.7% of Irish mobile subscribers are accessing ‘advanced data services’ on their phones, e.g. web content, video and music streaming. This finding adds to the trend for the increasing importance of mobile data for consumers.

Overall data usage continues to rise. Rapidly. The latest figures indicate average smartphone data use at 1.8 GB of data each month. As smartphone penetration increases, use of apps, email, and voice over IP (VOIP) services continues to drive demand for data skyward. Over the last two years, data usage by Irish consumers has more than tripled.

Since Q1 2015, the number of mobile voice and data subscribers using 3G and 4G networks has increased by 2.6%. This contrasts with a decrease in the amount of mobile broadband subscribers by 5.2%, perhaps indicating that customers are opting to use the Internet from their mobile plan rather than opting for a separate broadband subscription.

Calls

In terms of calls, 75.8% of all of mobile minutes were mobile to mobile. With 11.9% being made to landlines, 9.6% as roaming or international and 2.7% to premium rate services (psychics, chat lines etc!)

59.8% of all mobile-to-mobile voice minutes were 'on-net'. On-net indicates that the calls were made to people on the same network as the person making the call.

Overall, minute usage is rising, with average use now 208.3 minutes per month - this number rising steadily since Q2 2013.

SMS

average sms usage per subscriber 2015

SMS usage continues to plummet. Usage between Q1 2015 and Q2 2015 has dropped from an average of 123 SMS per user per month to 117 per user per month in this most recent period. This echoes a trend identified in previous Comreg reports and has previously been covered in-depth on our blog.

ARPU

ARPU stands for 'Average Revenue Per User'. According to Comreg, it represents "a measure of the average revenue generated per subscriber over a specific time period"; one month in this report. In Q2 2015 mobile ARPU was €24.75 per month, down from €24.79 per month in the previous quarter.

Comreg note that such a decline is in common with other Western European countries and suggest that the reduction is likely due to lower cost mobile plans, the reduction of roaming and termination rates, along with the increased sale of bundled products such as television and landline, alongside mobile plans.

"This overall decline over this period is in line with a general downward trend in ARPU across Western European countries."
- Comreg

The continued decline in ARPU is a major challenge for mobile operators as they compete for customers in an an ever-more-competitive market. Value-add customer offers and loyalty schemes are becoming more important as differentiators between the competing networks.

Prepay vs Billpay

prepay vs billpay subscribers

Comreg data indicates the split of prepay and billpay subscriptions by operator (note that this includes mobile broadband and M2M - machine to machine - subscriptions). Overall, the country is split 51% prepay and 49% billpay, but individual networks experience widely varying figures.

Three Group possess the highest percentage of billpay subscriptions with 56.7%, Vodafone follow with 52.7%, eircom Group have 43.9% and Tesco mobile have only 12.6%. All Lycamobile subscriptions are prepay, while only 8.6% of OAO (Other Authorised Operators) subscriptions are billpay. 

Conclusion

Overall trends in increased data and declining SMS usage that had been identified in previous Comreg reports are continuing. With subtle, but definite shifts in usage patterns it puts the ball in the mobile network's court to react to customers. Mobile data is becoming an increasingly important aspect of the telecommunications industry, and networks will likely intensify their competition on data prices. SMS will continue to decline, but probably not completely disappear, and as a result, networks will focus less and less on offers charging for limited use of our 160 character friend.

Sources:

Comreg Quarterly Report Q2 2015


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