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BUSINESS TODAY 17 November 2022

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2 NEWS 17.11.2022 Through the Wage Supplement Scheme, €825 million in support was provided to firms and businesses to substantially cover partial wage costs in order to reduce the burden during COVID-19 restrictions and thus, prevent redundancies. The scheme was initially launched in 2020 and tapered out up to May 2022, aimed at helping firms and businesses during the recovery period. Businesses could also apply to postpone the payment of taxes such as VAT and income tax through the tax deferral scheme. Starting from June 2022, the scheme's beneficiaries could pay the eligible taxes monthly over 30 months until the end of December 2024. During this period, the interest on the deferred tax is suspended. covid-19: liquidity support measures 95% of households in Malta have an internet connection, according to a survey carried out by the Malta Com- munications Authority on consumer perceptions and behaviours towards the internet service provided in Malta. is rate is higher than the EU average, but three percentage points lower than that recorded in a survey carried out in 2019. A quarter of those without fixed broadband say they use mobile broad- band instead. e rest encompass those households with residents that consider the service either too complicated to use or unnec- essary. Download speed is key 34% of surveyed households consider download speed as the leading factor influencing their purchase, up 11 per- centage points from 2019. Price and upload speed also ranked as the second and third factors respectively in terms of influence, for 27% and 16% of surveyed households respectively. is year's survey shows that households are increasingly aware of the importance of download and upload speeds. Also, nothwithstanding the prevalence of households purchasing internet in a bundle, just 12% of those surveyed con- sider the bundle factor as the primary reason influencing their choices for the internet service. People under the age of 18 generally spend their 'online time' on entertain- ment 57% of surveyed households have at least one family member in their household under 18 years of age. ese household members spend 3 to 5 hours online every day for 36% of households qualifying in this category. Survey data also shows that individ- uals in this age group were generally more likely to engage in activities relat- ed to entertainment when making use of internet services. is was confirmed by 31% of surveyed households with 18-year old members. is was closely followed by video games at 26% of surveyed households with 18-year old members in their com- position (up 1 percentage point from 2019). In comparison, 14% of surveyed re- spondent within this category say that their 18-year olds made use of the inter- net for educational purposes. Ultra-fast connections 81% of surveyed households say they have an ultra-fast connection support- ing a download speed of 100Mbps or more. is represents a 6 percentage point improvement over the respective figure reported in 2019. A further 12% of sur- veyed households say their broadband speed was in the region of 50Mbps but less than 100Mbps. Also, 81% of surveyed households with fixed internet perceive their connection speeds as adequate for their day-to-day needs. Whilst still on the low side, more households are also testing their down- load speeds, with speed test apps and websites that are available as a means for the end-user to utilise. Only 15% of household respondents say they test their download speed regularly, but less frequently than reported in 2019. ere were more household respond- ents saying that actual download speeds failed to reach the advertised rates, than respondents finding actual speeds equivalent to marketed ones. Of those respondents that carry out download speed tests, 44% say that the speed measured was equal to that being ad- vertised by the service provider, where- as 38% of respondents found the speed measured to be slightly lower than that advertised. In addition, 18% of respondents say that their speed tests indicated far low- er speeds than what their service is ex- pected to deliver. Monthly expenditure 86% of surveyed households are aware of their monthly expenditure on the fixed internet service notwithstanding that most purchase the service in a bun- dle. In all likelihood Maltese fixed inter- net users associate the cost they pay for the bundle with their internet service, even if purchased alongside fixed te- lephony and / or TV in a package. 42% of those knowledgeable on their monthly expenditure say they spend more than €50 per month. Another 35% say they spend between €30 to €49 per month. Of note, is that 59% of respondents knowledgeable of their monthly ex- penditure feel that their fixed internet service is 'neither expensive nor cheap' whilst 40% deem it 'expensive' and 'very expensive'. Customers largely satisfied with qual- ity of service e survey indicates that most house- holds consider that the fixed internet service works well, with no major con- cerns reported in terms of quality of service. 74% of respondents say they are satisfied with their current internet service, whilst another 19% say they feel indifferent on this matter. Meanwhile, the percentage of re- spondents saying they are dissatisfied with the service rose by 2 percentage points since 2019 to 7%. Faults and service 66% of household respondents have experienced performance issues with their fixed internet service in the pre- vious 12 months. Of these, 22% report- ed more than five faults, 50% reported between 2 to 5 faults and 29% reported one fault. Most of those reporting faults, at 62%, say that their concerns were handled well by their service provider and were satisfied or very satisfied with the re- sponse received. OTT usage over fixed broadband 87% of respondents are aware of and access third-party over-the-top (OTT) applications over an internet connec- tion, the majority of which utilise them daily. Satisfaction levels with OTTs went down 11 percentage points from 2019, as more respondents report being indifferent towards the quality parame- ter. Among the most popular types of OTT services used are chat and content apps, ranking first and second respec- tively, similar to 2019. e most commonly used apps for chat OTTs over fixed broadband are sequentially Facebook messenger and WhatsApp, whereas the most frequent- ly used content OTTs are Facebook and YouTube. 66% of households with internet connection, reported faults in past 12 months - survey

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