According to the latest research published by ComReg, Irish mobile usage habits are changing. In this post we will examine some of the major trends and patterns over the past few years and present a picture of the Irish mobile market in 2015.
Pre-pay vs. Post-pay
Between Q1 2014 and Q1 2015 there has been a 2.7% increase in post-pay (billpay) as a subscription method. As of Q1 2015 the network with the highest proportion of post-paid subscriptions is Three Group with 56.5%, this is followed by Vodafone with 51.6% and Eircom with 43.2%.
Overall, Vodafone has the highest number of Irish subscribers with 38.5% of the market, 3 Ireland has 32%, followed by Eircom Group (parent of Meteor) with 20.7% and Tesco Mobile with 6.1%. Lycamobile and OAO’s (Other Authorised Operators) make up the rest of the market, with 2.4% and 0.3% respectively.
Between Q1 2011 and Q1 2015 there have been significant changes in the way that Irish consumers use their phones. SMS volumes have greatly dropped, from just over 3 billion down to 1.7 billion in this period. The figures are indicative of a shift in preference for sending text messages through data via apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Viber rather than through SMS. However, the text message isn’t going anywhere; these figures suggest that it’s just becoming more common to send text messages through data.
Data usage continues to increase year on year. Consumption of data has risen from 5.1 million GB in Q2 2011 up to 25.9 million GB in Q1 2015, a massive 402% rise. The increased proliferation of smartphones and use of mobile data intensive apps and messaging services accounts for this change.
In the first quarter of 2015 the average data traffic per smartphone was 1.6GB of data. This is up from 0.4GB in 2013, an increase of 300%.
Average Monthly Revenue Per User
Mobile Average Monthly Revenue Per User or ‘ARPU’ is the average that Irish customers pay for their mobile subscription each month. ARPU is reflective of the price of mobile services and also the level of usage of mobile services. This has declined in the past two years, with the average prepay user paying €15.07 in Q1 2015, down from €17.76 at the start of 2013.
Post-pay subscribers pay significantly more on average (many plans include a phone), but again this figure is in decline. From €40.27 in Q1 2013 to €34.69 in Q1 2015. ComReg identify some of the factors for decline in ARPU as the decrease in roaming costs and termination rates along with generally lower prices for mobile plans and an increased bundling of services such as landline and broadband along with mobile plans.
Types of Mobile Minutes
In terms of mobile minutes in Q1 2015, mobile-to-mobile calls remain the most popular with 76.1% of all voice minutes. Calls to landlines account for 12.2% of voice minutes while 9.1% were international; the remaining 2.7% were calls to premium rate services (e.g. TV voting, chat lines, psychics etc.)
The outlook for Irish consumers is good. Mobile subscription costs are declining, in line with a general trend across Western European countries. Lower costs have been spurred on by EU regulation and inter-industry competition. SMS volumes are expected to drop and data usage to rise as the year continues and consumers continue to adopt text-messaging apps.