Telecom businesses lag behind pre-Covid performance
Bermuda’s electronic communications sector has not recovered from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Regulatory Authority of Bermuda has declared in its annual market analysis.
In 2021, the RA reported, all relevant metrics lagged behind those of the pre-Covid year of 2019 – and it said the report “should consider measures taken by the Bermuda Government to reduce the impact of the Covid-19 virus”.
The report said the “usage of EC services was affected by increased home working, technology solutions that enabled continued communication such as internet-based meetings, fewer travellers both inbound and outbound, and the resumption of office work (return to normalcy)”.
In 2021, the EC sector – including fixed, mobile, broadband, and business connectivity – generated $184.5 million in total revenue, which is a 0.6 per cent increase on the 2020 total of $183.4 million – but a sharp drop compared with revenue of $199.1 million in 2019.
Total revenues include revenues associated with Bermuda subscribers while roaming overseas and revenue from visitors to the island.
The sector contributed $16.9 million in direct government fees – including government administration fees, handset fees and spectrum fees – which is an increase of three per cent on the 2020 total of 16.4 million, but is $700,000 less than the 2019 total of $17.6 million.
The EC sector contributed $3.1 million to the RA in regulatory administration fees, which is a decrease of 1.9 per cent on the 2020 total of $3.2 million and $400,000 short of the 2019 total of $3.5 million.
The number of people employed in the sector on a full-time equivalent basis has also decreased – from 351 in 2019, to 341 in 2020 and 289 in 2021. That is a drop of more than 17 per cent since 2019.
The sector made total capital investments in EC infrastructure and assets of $11.7 million in 2021, a three per cent decrease on the $12.1 million spent in 2020, and a sharp decline on the 2019 total of $17.8 million.
Subscriptions to broadband and mobile phones also declined over the period.
In the former case, the number of subscriptions rose from 38,010 in 2019 to 38,677 in 2020 – but fell to 35,458 in 2021.
In the mobile sector, subscriptions totalled 59,152 in 2019, but fell to 58,124 in 2020 before increasing in 2021 to 58,490.
The report covers the 2021 calendar year and is based on data submitted by the sectoral providers in the summer of 2022, the RA said.
Data is additionally sourced from EC sectoral providers’ quarterly financial reports to the RA and from the Bermuda Government Department of Statistics.