High-end consumers spend more on mobile

High-end residential telecoms users spend more money using their mobile phones than they do on landlines and Internet combined, a new survey has found.

High-end residential telecoms users spend more money using their mobile phones than they do on landlines and Internet combined, a new survey by BMI-TechKnowledge has found.
BMI-T analyst Tertia Smit, previewing the release of the full report, says spend on mobile phones accounts for half the telecoms budget among high-end residential users. However, she declined to elaborate on exactly how much these respondents spend on telecoms at this stage.

Some 360 respondents with a household income of more than R8 000 per month were surveyed.

Smit says the study aimed to provide qualitative insight into the buying behaviour of this group with regard to telecoms spend and pricing, requirements and use of voice, cellular and other wireless technologies, as well as use of applications on PCs as compared to mobile phones.

Technology adoption

Smit says even though wealthy households spend a lot on telecoms, most of the money is spent on voice and SMSes, not the full functionality of applications available to them.
Tertia Smit, BMI-TechKnowledge analyst, says wealthy households spend a lot on telecoms.
The survey also indicates there is a 60% adoption of Internet banking within that group, making it the most popular e-business activity. Buying goods online is the second most popular activity and game downloads is third.

Adoption of applications on mobile phones is much lower than on PCs, with only SMS usage standing out.

Smit notes that over 90% of respondents have sent an SMS at some stage, with 54.4% using SMS every day. Taking photographs is the second most popular mobile phone activity, with 50% of respondents having done this at some stage. Some 40% of respondents have cast votes using their mobile phones and 35% have used the MMS facility.

Purchased mobile content like ringtones are the most common downloads, with 36% of respondents having tried it at least once. Only 8.5% of respondents did cellphone banking.

Price sensitivity

Smit says over a third of respondents have some form of broadband, be it DSL or 3G. Those that do not have broadband felt they did not have a need for it, or found the price too prohibitive, she says.

"Cost is still an issue and does affect buying power and decision-making, but high income South Africans seem to have a general apathy towards consumer rights."

Blissfully unaware?

Smit notes that the survey found unexpectedly high satisfaction levels regarding Internet speed, price and service levels. This may be a result of people not being aware of what is available in other countries for much lower prices, she says.

Rudolph Muller, founder of MyADSL and a lecturer at Johannesburg University, agrees with Smit’s explanation. He says the general public is likely unaware of the fact that South Africans pay as much as 1 000% more for ADSL than international counterparts. He also suggests satisfaction levels would drop significantly if one polled "savvy IT professionals".

"More knowledge about the Internet and related services would make this group realise our current service offerings make it difficult to make use of bandwidth-intensive services," he says.

Telkom media relations officer Candice Jeffries says Telkom has embarked on cost-reduction exercises to make Internet usage more affordable.

Muller remains unimpressed. "Unless the general public becomes more knowledgeable about broadband and the Internet as a whole, I suspect we will see more surveys where Telkom’s marketing spin plays more of a role than the truth about our situation locally."


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High-end consumers spend more on mobile