Total downloads by Maltese subscribers while abroad rose by a staggering 65 per cent from the second to the third quarter of 2018, reaching a total of 134.8 megabytes (MB) according to a report published by the Malta Communications Authority.
Domestic use also rose, reaching 1,623 million MB between July and September.
These increases are due to the introduction of legislation regarding roaming in the EU that came into force on 15 June 2017 and stipulated that charges to subscribers on data voice calls and data services (internet) would be at the same rate as in the subscriber’s own country.
There was also a rise in the length of time spent by Maltese subscribers receiving and making calls while abroad to 9.7 million minutes, whilst messaging remained stable at about 70 million due to the rise in popularity of applications such as Messenger and WhatsApp.
The average revenue per user also rose, with each subscriber spending an average of €46.51 during this three-month period, compared with €43.28 in the previous quarter.
Labour MEP Marlene Mizzi was the S&D spokesperson in charge of consumer rights in the negotiating team on the roaming legislation, and when asked for her comments by this newspaper, she said that the fact that data use by Maltese nationals had increased so much since the introduction of Roam Like at Home shows how important the roaming legislation was.
“We knew that the new rules would definitely benefit consumers. The end of roaming charges in Europe was a big victory for millions of Europeans who travel, study, work or live abroad in another EU Member State and their relatives and friends. It was a historic moment for the European Union and for our citizens – we finally gave them something tangible and real.”
Even though it had been a very long process that began more than 10 years ago, Mizzi insisted that it is at times like this that MEPs can have a direct impact on the lives of millions of people.
“I am proud that, following the roaming regulation, I was once more part of the negotiating team working on more ground-breaking legislation of great benefit to our citizens – to push for lower and unified rates for phone calls from one EU country to another.
“From 15 May, European citizens will no longer be faced with exorbitant bills when they call their families and friends in another EU country.”