Mobile subscriber numbers in South Africa – MTN vs Vodacom

MTN has published its quarterly trading update for the period ended 31 March 2019, outlining its subscriber number changes since the beginning of 2019.

The mobile operator saw a service revenue increase of 5.6% year-over-year in South Africa, with data revenue increasing by 3.1%.

MTN South Africa also showed a 5.1% decrease in prepaid service revenue, which it said was the result of recent out-of-bundle price reductions and a challenging economic environment.

Despite this, data revenue increased by 3.1% for the period, while outgoing digital and voice revenue declined by 35.7% and 4.4% respectively.

“We are encouraged by the operational progress we continue to see across the business, supported by the network roll-out we achieved and enhancements to the propositions that we offer to our customers,” said MTN CEO Rob Shuter.

“In South Africa, we implemented changed pricing for pre-paid propositions where we reduced, materially the out-of-bundle tariffs, making data services much more affordable.”

Losing subscribers

MTN South Africa reported a net loss in the number of subscribers on its network over the first quarter of 2019.

The company said it had 24.1 million prepaid users, down 4.9% quarter-on-quarter, and 5.9 million postpaid subscribers, up 1,2% quarter-on-quarter.

Vodacom has also recently posted a loss in subscribers, mostly due to a small dip in prepaid customers.

The total number of Vodacom subscribers declined by 251,000 from September 2018 to the end of the year, losing 337,000 prepaid customers over the period and gaining 86,000 postpaid users.

This reduction is not as severe as MTN South Africa however, which posted a subscriber loss of 1.18 million users during the first quarter of 2019.

Mobile subscribers

We compared the mobile subscriber numbers – excluding telemetry customers – of Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, and Telkom.

Vodacom’s latest 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 trading update reflected that it has a local mobile subscriber base of 27.0 million customers.

Cell C’s latest financial results reflect 17.2 million South African customers. The company’s results did not state its 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 24.1 million 5.9 million 30.0 million
Cell C N/A N/A 17.2 million
Telkom 4.9 million 1.6 million 6.5 million

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Mobile subscriber numbers in South Africa – MTN vs Vodacom