By Stelios Orphanides
State-owned telecoms company Cyta conceded additional market share to competitors in the first half of the year across all market sectors at an alarming rate, foretelling the loss of its dominant position in the medium term, official data showed.
Cyta saw its market share in mobile telephony subscriptions drop to 58.4 per cent by June, from 60.5 per cent in December last year, and 62.3 per cent in June last year, the Bureau of Electronic Communications and Postal Regulations said on its website. Main competitor MTN on the other hand, saw its market share expand to 32.6 per cent in June, from 31.7 per cent in December, and 30.9 per cent in June last year. Primetel also snatched a larger portion of the market in June — 9 per cent compared to 7.9 per cent the previous six months, and 6.5 per cent at the end of the first half of 2016.
The situation is even gloomier for Cyta and the taxpayer, after privatisation of the company was ditched early last year, when it comes to its share in prepaid mobile telephony, the regulator said. Cyta’s stake dropped to 51.7 per cent, 3 percentage points below that of December and 5.2 percentage points below that of June last year. MTN and Primetel expanded their market share to 39.5 per cent and 6.9 per cent in June against 38.1 per cent and 5.2 per cent in December, and 36.1 per cent and 4.9 per cent year-on-year respectively.
Cyta could slightly expand its market share in mobile broadband connections in June, to 91.9 per cent from 91.7 per cent in December, but was still down from 94.6 per cent in June last year, the regulator said.
In the landlines market, Cyta’s share declined to 72.4 per cent at the end of June, from 73.5 per cent at the end of March, and 75.6 per cent in June last year. In contrast, Primetel expanded its share to 13.4 per cent in June, from 12.9 per cent the previous three months, and 12.5 per cent in June 2016.
Similarly, Cablenet and MTN saw their shares grow to 8.5 per cent and 5.6 per cent in June, from 7.7 per cent and 3.8 per cent a year before.
Cyta also lost additional ground in broadband land connections with its market share falling to 57.7 per cent from 58.1 per cent in March, and 59.9 per cent in June last year, the regulator said. MTN was the clear winner as it saw its market share increase to 6.2 per cent in June, from 4.2 per cent a year before. Primetel gained slightly at the end of June compared to a year before, increasing its market share to 15.5 per cent, from 15.2 per cent, while in the case of Cablenet it rose marginally to 20.7 per cent.
Cyprus agreed to privatise Cyta when it signed the 2013 cash-for-reforms programme as part of a privatisation programme aiming at generating €1.4bn in revenue to help reduce public debt. Following a better-than-expected economic and fiscal performance, political parties and unions dug their hills in and refused to allow Cyta’s privatisation on the grounds that it was a profitable business, forcing the government to ditch its plans.
In September, Auditor-General Odysseas Michaelides revised Cyta’s 2016 profit downwards by €75.2m to €30.4m citing its failure to report investment losses from placements made by its pension fund.