Mobile subscribers in South Africa – Vodacom vs MTN

Vodacom recently published its trading update for the quarter ended 30 June 2020, which showed impressive growth in revenue.

The company also showed a significant drop in mobile subscribers, however, which is attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent national lockdown.

Increased demand for mobile data during the hard lockdown led to a surge in data traffic and mobile data revenue growth for the company.

In South Africa, Vodacom’s service revenue grew by 6.4%, benefiting from increased demand for data and connectivity services as customers worked from home during the quarter.

“The significant growth in demand assisted in offsetting the effects from a price reduction on 30-day data bundles from 1 April 2020. Revenue grew by 4.2% impacted by lower equipment sales during the lockdown period, but showed recovery during the latter part of the quarter,” Vodacom said.

Vodacom South Africa’s total customer base declined, however, falling from 41.3 million to 39.4 million over the period.

This was almost entirely attributable to a loss of 1.9 million prepaid subscribers.

Despite this customer base decline, Vodacom South Africa’s average revenue per user (ARPU) grew from R88 to R99 per month.

Prepaid ARPU increased even more significantly, rising by 20.8% to R64 in the period.

The company also saw an increase in data customers of 6.5% during the period with 13.2 million using 4G, up 29.4%.

Mobile subscriber numbers

To see the total mobile subscriber numbers in South Africa, we compared prepaid and postpaid subscribers counts from Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, and Telkom.

Vodacom’s quarterly trading update for the period ended 30 June 2020 showed it now has 39.4 million customers in South Africa, comprising 33.3 million prepaid and 6.1 million contract customers.

MTN’s quarterly trading update for the period ended 31 March 2020 reflected that it has a local mobile subscriber base of 25.8 million subscribers, comprising 22.7 million prepaid and 3.1 million postpaid customers.

Cell C’s latest financial results reflect 14.4 million South African customers, which works out to 12 million after deducting MVNO, business, wholesale, and broadband subscribers.

Telkom’s financial results for the year ended 31 March 2020 showed that it had a total of 12.0 million mobile subscribers.

Network Prepaid Postpaid Total
Vodacom 33.3 million 6.1 million 39.4 million
MTN 22.7 million 3.1 million 25.8 million
Cell C 10.9 million 1.1 million 12.0 million
Telkom 9.4 million 2.6 million 12.0 million

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Mobile subscribers in South Africa – Vodacom vs MTN