Internet Subscriptions in Hungary Reached 2.2 Million in 2008

2009. 01. 01.

In 2008 the number of landline internet subscriptions in Hungary increased by more than 200 thousand over a one-year period, fueled by the growing internet demand of households. Beginning in mid-2008, however, the expansion of mobile internet service became the driving force of the growth: Following its launch in 2007, hundreds of thousands of people decided to subscribe to mobile internet service. The number of internet subscriptions was close to 2.2 million by the end of the year.

Internet subscriptions have been on a steady upward trend in Hungary since 2005; the majority of subscribers have already switched from dial-up to broadband services, based on the current definition of broadband. The Q3 2008 data of the Central Statistical Office (CSO) indicate that the number of internet subscriptions – including all types of internet access – was nearly 2.2 million.

Currently there are two comprehensive surveys that keep track of internet subscriptions on a regular basis in Hungary. One of them is the National Statistical Data Collection Program, a quarterly survey conducted by the CSO, and the other is an annual report titled “State of Broadband Internet Access,” published by the National Communications Authority. The two sets of data revealed in these studies are not completely compatible. The data of the National Communications Authority are undeniably precise, however, all data concerning landline services in 2008 were collected in the summer, consequently reflecting market conditions at the end of the second quarter (showing a total of 1,607,295 landline internet subscriptions). The Authority’s most current set of data on mobile internet subscriptions covers the third quarter of 2008 (indicating 400,597 subscribers). Obviously, these data do not pertain to late 2008, nor do they  include dial-up internet subscribers.

Figure 1. Number of Internet Subscriptions, 2005-Q3 2008 (units, 2005-2007: year-end)

Forrás: CSO

Dial-up internet access generally means ISDN access these days. Their relatively constant  prevalence is not declining considerably owing to the fact that this technology is used at POS terminals enabling credit or debit card payments.

Internet subscribers include households, businesses operating in Hungary as well as public institutions. A little over 46% of all households in Hungary had internet access in late 2008 (approximately 1.74 million households). Slightly more than 83% of people with home computers had access to the internet somewhere, which corresponds to over 1.4 million households with internet subscriptions at home.

It should be noted, however, that the data on households have a significant overlap with data on the so-called SOHO (Small Office Home Office) segment consisting of microbusinesses with 1-9 employees, because most microbusiness owners prefer to purchase household internet plans rather than plans offered to companies, due to the lower costs.

Figure 2. Growth of Subscriber Categories at Fixed Internet Access Points (Q2 2004 – Q2 2008)
Forrás: National Communications Authority

The data published by the National Communications Authority also reveal that the number of fixed broadband internet subscriptions remained unchanged between Q2 2007 and Q2 2008 in the corporate sector (and in the segment of public institutions as well).  This clearly indicates that the increase in internet subscriptions to as high as 2.2 million by year-end 2008 is attributable primarily to a jump in mobile internet subscriptions, since the number of xDSL and cable internet subscriptions in the household segment did not rise to such an extent. The expansion of mobile internet service is also  signaled by the fact that the number of active SIM cards  rose by 83 thousand, 67 thousand and 178 thousand in September, October and November, respectively, to a total of 10.77 million (by the end of November, 2008). Apparently, this growth is propelled by a growing demand for mobile internet access rather than SIM card purchases for new mobile phone handsets, as the market of mobile voice services is nearly saturated.

Background information

GKI, in cooperation with T-Mobile, has published a quarterly research summary titled “Report on the Internet Economy” since 2001, containing comprehensive analyses on the progress of the internet economy. The publication has been revised in 2008, with each new quarterly issue designed to focus on a specific topic. There will be three concise briefings for the press and for interested parties based on each quarterly issue, summarizing the key findings of the quarterly reports. A total of three press releases will be sent out in each quarter, which will also be available on the website of GKIeNET.