The number of Vodafone Malta mobile phone subscribers has dropped by 6,000 during the first three months of the year, figures published in the Vodafone Group’s preliminary financial results for the company’s financial year ending 31 March 2009 showed.
A look at the figures published by the Vodafone Group on 18 May 2009 show that in the nine months ending on 31 December 2008, the number of mobile phone subscribers for Vodafone Malta increased from 200,000 on 1 April 2008 to 207,000 at the end of the year, an increase of 7,000 subscribers.
However, in the January to March quarter, this growth was almost completely reversed with a drop of 6,000 subscribers in just three months, leaving Vodafone Malta with 201,000 subscribers at the end of March 2009, a net gain of just one thousand subscribers for the entire 2008-2009 financial year.
Of these, 84.9 per cent were prepaid subscribers, while only 15.1 per cent were on post-paid contract, a split which is the third highest for Vodafone companies in Europe, with only Albania and Italy registering a higher percentage of pre-paid subscribers at 93.5 per cent and 87.8 per cent respectively.
Compared with the previous financial year, the percentage of pre-paid subscribers decreased by 4.8 per cent from 89.1 per cent at 31 March 2008, with the percentage of post-paid subscribers increased correspondingly from 10.3 per cent.
The drop in the figures coincided with the launch of the third mobile operator Melita Mobile in February, which had an aggressive campaign based on the claim that it was offering rates that were 30 per cent lower than those offered by incumbents Vodafone Malta and GO Mobile.
A week after the launch, Melita Mobile had claimed that it had acquired more than 10,000 subscribers.
In the previous financial year ending 31 March 2008, there had been no significant drop in subscriber figures in the last quarter of the year.
In fact, the drop in subscribers during the January to March quarter last year had been of just 1,000 subscribers following a growth of 15,000 subscribers for the April to December 2007 period.
Therefore net growth for the entire 2007-2008 financial year ending 31 March 2008 was of 14,000 subscribers, from 186,000 on 1 April 2007 to 200,000 subscribers on 31 March 2008.
This is the first tangible indication of how the subscriber base of Vodafone Malta has been affected as a result of launch of Melita Mobile.
In Malta, mobile phone subscriber figures were closely guarded by mobile phone companies as a commercial secret.
However, since the Vodafone Group is listed on the London Stock Exchange, it has to report on subscriber figures, among other things, as part of its regulatory filings.