Telkom is currently conducting due diligence on Cell C as part of a possible acquisition of the operator, thereby cutting the number players in the market to three.
Should such an acquisition go through, the new mobile entity would be in a position to challenge heavyweights, MTN and Vodacom.
Telkom reported just shy of 2.3 million subscribers in interim results on Monday, while Cell C in September boasted 22 million subscribers, translating to a combined total of more than 24 million users.
Vodacom reported earlier in November that it had increased its subscriber base to 33.7 million customers in South Africa, while MTN also recently noted a rise in subscriber numbers to 29.1 million.
South Africa is also host to a number of MVNOs, with the likes of Virgin Mobile, Mr Price Mobile, me&you Mobile and FNB Connect competing for a slice of the pie.
Virgin Mobile, which has had the longest haul in the country as an MVNO, is targeting 1 million customers in the country, but has hovered around the 500,000 mark for a long time.
According to reports, the other MVNOs aren’t faring much better, with me&you sitting at 6,000 customers, with 25,000 set as a goal for the end of 2016 – and FNB Connect currently at 100,000 customers.
It’s worth noting that all of South Africa’s MVNOs run off of Cell C’s network, so it would be fair to count the optimistic estimate of 650,000 MVNO subscribers as Cell C users.
Current subscriber numbers: Vodacom vs MTN vs Cell C vs Telkom
Taking the latest reported subscriber numbers into account, South Africa has about 87.7 million mobile connections – a SIM penetration of around 162%.
This is how the current mobile landscape looks in South Africa:
Cell C is the biggest winner, having grown substantially over the past four years.
In terms of reported subscribers, Vodacom has seen its overall market share decline, despite growing its user base.
In 2011, Vodacom controlled 51% of the market – which has since declined to 38.4%.
MTN has had a difficult time in South Africa – only recently picking up its numbers in the country – after seeing successive drops in user numbers over much of 2014.