Fixed telephones still relevant… but only thanks to bundling

Almost all households still reported having a fixed telephony connection when asked in a Malta Communications Authority survey

Bundles are so popular that 39% of respondents who said they have more than one fixed phone connection did so to benefit from bundle offers
Bundles are so popular that 39% of respondents who said they have more than one fixed phone connection did so to benefit from bundle offers

Despite the popularity of mobile phones and other modes of communication, almost all households in Malta have a fixed telephony connection, a survey by the Malta Communications Authority (MCA) has found.

After surveying a total of 824 randomly selected respondents, the study found that a total of 99.8% of household respondents have a fixed telephony subscription at home.

Bundling of the service, that is, having fixed telephone as part of a bundled plan that includes other services, was very popular. In fact, 76% of respondents said that they subscribe to a post-paid plan on a bundle.

In fact, the most popular feature sought when seeking to purchase a fixed telephony connection is 52%, with good customer care service in second place at 48%. Surprisingly, only 30% said that they opt for plans that are of most value.

Bundles are so popular that 39% of respondents who said that they have more than one fixed telephony connection, do so in order to benefit from yet another bundle offer.

Fixed telephony probably won’t be going away anytime soon, as the vast majority of respondents said they were satisfied or highly satisfied with their service. In 2017, 48% said they were highly satisfied and another 42% said they were satisfied – with only 1% saying they were dissatisfied and another 1% saying they were least satisfied, while 8% said they were indifferent.

But it is unclear whether fixed telephony would be so popular without the option of bundling services, as only 22% of respondents  said that they make use of a stand-alone post-paid plan, and 2% use a prepaid plan.

Some might be sticking to their fixed telephones due to a reluctance to change. The study found that even the small amount of people who were dissatisfied with their service were not likely to switch providers, as almost half said they would not make the switch. Again, bundling played a part in this too, as 29% of those dissatisfied with their service said they would not switch providers since the service forms part of a bundle which they benefit from.

Bundling also meant that a large number of respondents were not able to identify the cost of their fixed telephony service. Curiously, 78% of all respondents were not able to specify how much they spend on their fixed telephone service per month. Many of these – 64% – could not identify their expenditure due to the fact that they could not separate the individual service from the rest of the bundle.

Bundling, plans, and offers also opened the door to allowances and unlimited calls, which resulted in a large number of users who are completely unaware of the cost of calls per minute. The survey noted an increase in a lack of knowledge on per-minute call costs between 2015 and 2017, as only 25% of respondents were aware of the costs in the previous year.

Bundling may, indeed, be what keeps fixed telephones in households, as 80% of respondents said that their fixed telephone was substitutable with their mobile, though only 46% said that applications such as WhatsApp, Skype, or Messengers were a suitable substitute to their fixed home phone