20 MARCH 2002
By Kurt Sansone
Statistics released by the National Statistics Office show that during the third quarter last year more than half of the population had a mobile phone subscription clearly indicating that Malta is fast approaching saturation point in the mobile phone sector.
And judging from the increase experienced in the first and second quarters of 2001, the marketing push during the December festive season by both mobile phone operators is expected to have inched the figure towards the 60 per cent mark by the end of the year.
In September 2001 50.1 per cent of the population had a mobile phone subscription, which represents a seven per cent increase on the June figure. Between January and September 2001 mobile phone subscriptions increased by a dramatic 21 per cent.
The incredible increase was not mimicked in the Internet field. In September 2001 there were 46,436 Internet subscriptions, which amounts to 11.8 per cent of the population. Between January and September Internet subscriptions increased by three per cent.
However, considering that an Internet subscription is utilised by more than one person the number of people using Internet is probably more than double the number of Internet subscriptions.
The NSO report states that in 2000 Internet users amounted to just under 61,000. A projection of this figure indicates that by the end of 2001 the number of Internet users would most probably have surpassed the 90,000 mark.
But a worrying figure is that given for computer usage. A vast number of respondents, 68 per cent, said that they never used a computer during 2000.
In the visual communication field Cable TV still has the edge over satellite receivers. Cable TV subscriptions between January-September 2001 increased by almost double the rise in satellite receiver licences.
Cable TV subscriptions by the end of the third quarter stood at 22.6 per cent of the population. But given that each Cable TV subscription reaches an average of three people per household, it transpires that almost 70 per cent of the population have access to Cable TV.
In September 2001 there were 7,445 satellite receiver licences. Bearing in mind that a satellite receiver reaches an average of three people per household, it transpires that almost six per cent of the population watch satellite television. But observers believe that this figure is much higher owing to the number of satellite receivers which operate without official licences.