Nearly three million Spanish consumers decided to stop using their mobile phones last year, according to the telecoms watchdog CMT. This fall, the first on record for Spain, came after the economy slipped back into recession for the second time in three years.
Telefónica's Movistar, and Vodafone Spain were the most heavily impacted by this decline, according CMT, although France Telecom's Orange, which stopped subsidising handset in March, also suffered as the total number of mobile connections fell from 52.946 million at the end of December 2012 from 55.844 million a year earlier, according to Reuters.
This loss of 2.89 million was largely caused by a fall in prepaid connections, which dropped from around 20 million at the end of 2011 to 17.5 million at the end of last year.
Portability also fell by 6 per cent in 2012 despite legislation being changed in the second half of 2011 aimed at making it easier to transfer from one operator to another while retaining the same mobile number, according to El Pais. However, Spain now has the highest penetration of smartphone in Europe.
While the decline in Telefónica's and Vodafone's market share has been partly attributed to them removing or reducing handset subsidies, smaller operators and MVNOs grew their share of the Spanish market from 6.33 per cent in 2011 to 8.92 per cent by the end of 2102, according to Reuters.
Vodafone, which reintroduced smartphone subsidies in November, saw its share of the market sink to just 26.23 per cent as of December 2012 compared to 28.21 per cent a year before.
While Telefónica introduced its quad-play "Movistar Fusión" service last October in an effort to lock in its customers, the local broadband specialist Jazztel has quickly countered by offering to pay contract penalty fees of up to €200 for its existing Internet customers to switch to using its mobile service.
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