Vodacom losing prepaid subscribers in South Africa

Vodacom has released its trading update for the quarter ended 31 December 2018, detailing its mobile subscriber growth for the period.

The update shows that group revenue was up 1.5% to R23.0 billion – with service revenue up 2.4% to R18.9 billion.

Service revenue in South Africa declined by 0.9% to R13.9 billion, which Vodacom said was impacted by pricing transformation and customers optimising promotional data bundle allocations.

Since 31 December 2017, Vodacom has seen an overall mobile subscriber growth of 5.4% in South Africa, including a 5.7% increase in the number of contract customers over the past year.

The mobile operator said that its efforts to reduce the once-off use of SIM cards have also started to take effect, with the company focusing more on contract subscriber growth.

Subscriber loss

Since 30 September 2018, however, the number of prepaid customers on Vodacom South Africa’s network declined by 337,000 – while its contract subscribers increased by 86,000.

This resulted in a net loss of 251,000 South African subscribers over the three-month period.

These customer numbers are based on the total number of mobile customers using any service during the past three months, including customers who pay a monthly fee for services they do not actively use and customers who are active while roaming.

Vodacom South Africa’s data customers also declined by 193,000 in the quarter.

Data customers the number of unique users generating billable data traffic, including users on integrated tariff plans, users who have access to corporate APNs, and users who have been allocated a revenue-generating data bundle.

Average revenue per user (ARPU) has also decreased by R2 across all mobile customers, with contract ARPU falling from R325 to R307 in the last quarter.

Mobile subscribers

To see how Vodacom’s latest figures stack up, we compared the subscriber numbers of the four major mobile operators in South Africa – excluding their telemetry and machine-to-machine customers.

Vodacom’s quarterly update showed that the company had a total of 43.8 million customers in South Africa, comprising 38.2 million prepaid and 5.6 million contract customers.

MTN’s latest quarterly update reflected that it had a local mobile subscriber base of 26.6 million customers.

Cell C’s latest financial results reflect 16.3 million South African customers. The company’s latest results did not reflect postpaid and prepaid subscriber counts.

Telkom’s interim results for the six months ended 30 September 2018 showed that it had a total of 6.5 million subscribers.

Network Prepaid Postpaid Total
Vodacom 38.2 million 5.6 million 43.8 million
MTN 23.7 million 2.9 million 26.6 million
Cell C N/A N/A 16.3 million
Telkom 4.9 million 1.6 million 6.5 million

Now read: Customer and data growth for Vodacom Group

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Vodacom losing prepaid subscribers in South Africa