Multi-spectrum auction kick-starts LTE services expansion in Portugal

Economic background

Portugal’s telecom market provides one of the highest contributions to GDP in the EU. And the stagnation of the sector country is among those in Europe most affected by the crisis. The government’s high proportion of debt to GDP has continued to jeopardise publicly funded telecom infrastructure investment and placed a greater burden on the private sector to deliver fibre-based infrastructure. The newly elected government has set budget deficit targets to 2015. Spending cuts required to achieve the fiscal overhaul are expected to cause Portugal’s economy to have contracted by 3% in 2012, affecting growth, consumer spend and business investment.

Telecom market overview

Broadband penetration is below the EU average while mobile penetration is among the highest. The incumbent Portugal Telecom has seen its share of the total traffic market (voice and internet) gradually fall in the face of competition, though it retains a dominant share in both the voice and DSL markets. Market revenue is expected to fall slightly to 2013, in line with lower sector investment, as operators face regulatory burdens compounded by consumers spending less on services. Operators have reported declining revenue for several quarters, and little respite is anticipated in the near future. PT has weathered the times better than competitors on the strength of its subsidiaries in Brazil.

Mobile market

The mobile sector is now the largest sector in the telecom market in terms of revenue. MNOs have focussed on mobile data services, investing in network upgrades for HSPA and LTE since 2011. TMN and Optimus both expect to provide 80% population coverage for their LTE networks by the end of 2012. The sector will develop swiftly in 2013 following the auction of spectrum in the 2.6GHz band.

Table 1 – Key telecom parameters – 2010; 2013



2013 (e)

Subscribers to telecom services (million):
Fixed broadband subscribers 2.07 2.5
Mobile broadband 16.47 17.12
Fixed-line telephony 4.48 4.61
Mobile (SIM cards) 16.47 16.15
Telecom penetration by service:
Fixed broadband 21% 31%
Mobile telephony 155% 164%
Fixed-line telephony 40% 43%

(Source: BuddeComm)

Market Highlights

  • Data revenue as a proportion of total mobile revenue continues to grow at 2-4% per year following a number of promotional efforts by operators to increase use of data services and promote wireless broadband solutions. The proportion of non-SMS related data services is also increasing.
  • Following LTE trials, MNOs now have extensive commercial services in place. Population coverage is nearing 80%, which is having a considerable effect on the availability rural broadband.
  • Portugal’s market for bundled services and IP broadcasting has a strong base in the country’s broadband network: triple and quad play has become increasingly popular during the last two years as operators’ investment in infrastructure upgrades bear fruit and customers take advantage of faster bandwidth, single billing convenience and cheaper prices resulting from greater competition.
  • An effective nationwide strategy for deploying fibre involves the cooperation of multiple operators, the government, and public subsidies. As a result, FttX in 2012 accounts for about 75% of all new broadband connections.

BuddeComm’s annual publication, Portugal – Telecoms, IP Networks, Digital Media and Forecasts, provides a comprehensive overview of the trends and developments in the telecommunications and digital media markets in one of Europe’s smaller countries yet having a progressive telecoms market. The report includes the regulator’s market data to June 2012, telcos’ financial and operating data to September 2012, and market developments to November 2012.

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Portugal – Telecoms, IP Networks, Digital Media and Forecasts



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