Tuesday 21 November 2017

South Africa: Progress and Problems

South Africa’s mobile networks are all growing their subscriber numbers, with Telkom the latest network to reveal its most recent figures.

Telkom’s interim results for the six months ended 30 September 2017 show it had 4.3 million active mobile subscribers.

This comprises 3 million prepaid and 1.3 million post-paid users.
The table below details the latest available subscriber numbers for South Africa’s mobile networks.

Vodacom40.0 million
MTN30.9 million
Cell C“Over 16 million”
Telkom4.3 million

According to Telkom their operating revenue was down by 0.6% compared to last year, reaching R20.1 billion.

“The first half of the year was characterized by a tough economic environment and increased competition. Even though South Africa exited the technical recession in the second quarter of the year, business confidence remains very low.”

 Despite the tough conditions, Telkom’s mobile division showed strong growth.
“The mobile business growth trajectory continued in the period with strong growth in active customers and stable ARPUs, resulting in an increase of 43.2% in mobile service revenue,” said Telkom.
“The strong mobile growth which boosted the group’s performance was underpinned by an expansion of our network, distribution, and the launch of innovative products which were well received by our customers.”
“We are pleased that our mobile business received the MyBroadband Best Mobile Broadband Provider of the year award, in the best value for money category.”

Market leader Vodacom’s priority must be defending its market share in an increasingly competitive environment. According to Equities analyst Irnest Kaplan  they must offer consumers more value, beyond simply “selling megabytes”. So-called over-the-top players — companies like Facebook and Google — are profiting from the data pipes Vodacom sells; the company needs to develop value-added services of its own, such as quality content, that subscribers are prepared to pay for. Without this, there’s the risk that consumers will simply shop around for the cheapest data rates

He said Vodacom, and the other mobile operators, are in a powerful position in that consumers carry their products in their pocket all day.

 “They should do more to leverage that. It’s hard for them because they are operators and not app developers, but people carry their products all the time, they know where you are all the time — there must be amazing apps they can offer.” Source

Moreoever all the South African operators face issued due to the  impasse over new spectrum allocation. Vodacom may be forced to cut spending in rural areas to densify its network in the more populated urban centres because of this “spectrum crunch”.

This issue needs to be sorted as soon as possible. Technology is the driver of economic growth. Spectrum is vital for the roll-out of new technologies and innovation, which will drive economic growth, create jobs and allow South Africa to take advantage of the Internet of things and the other technologies.

Meanwhile Ericsson and MTN will start a 5G trial in South Africa during the first quarter of 2018.

The companies signed a memorandum of understanding at AfricaCom 2017 to collaborate on the rollout of 5G technologies in South Africa.

MTN will trial a range of 5G use cases and applications as a proof-of-concept for South Africa in its laboratory, which will lead to commercial deployment in the future.
The companies said they will collaborate to identify 5G use cases in industries such as mining, transportation, agriculture, manufacturing, and utilities.

“5G gives us the opportunity to rethink our business and address previously-untapped value chains” 
said Giovanni Chiarelli, CTIO at MTN South Africa.Source

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