Mobile subscribers in South Africa – Vodacom vs MTN

Vodacom recently released its trading update for the quarter ended 30 June 2019, which outlined the company’s financial performance as well as the state of its subscriber base.

The company’s group revenue grew slightly in South Africa, but service revenue declined. Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub attributed this decline to the effect of recent ICASA regulations.

These regulations forced mobile operators to stop automatically billing customers for out-of-bundle data usage and to cut the price of out-of-bundle data.

“The impact from three months of ICASA’s data usage regulations, the transition between national roaming partners and the tough retail operating environment, were other contributors to the 1.2% decline in service revenue in South Africa,” Joosub said.

Data decline

Another surprise in Vodacom’s update was a decline in data customers compared to the previous year. The network had 20.4 million data users in June 2018, but it now has only R19.9 million.

Vodacom also attributed this loss of around 500,000 data customers to anti-churn measures and the new ICASA regulations.

Some local networks, like MTN, are in a similar position to Vodacom regarding the effect of ICASA’s new regulations, while others like Telkom have seen impressive growth despite the new rules.

Telkom’s latest set of results showed that its active subscribers were rocketing upwards compared to competing networks.

To provide an updated perspective of the South African mobile network landscape, we compared the latest figures from each network below.

Mobile subscribers

Vodacom’s trading update for the quarter ended 30 June 2019 shows it now has a total of 43.8 million customers in South Africa, comprising 37.9 million prepaid and 5.9 million contract customers.

MTN’s latest trading update reflected that it has a local mobile subscriber base of 30.0 million customers.

Cell C’s latest financial results reflect 17.2 million South African customers.

Telkom’s financial results for the year ended 31 March 2019 showed that it had a total of 9.7 million subscribers.

Network Prepaid Postpaid Total
Vodacom 37.9 million 5.9 million 43.8 million
MTN 24.1 million 5.9 million 30.0 million
Cell C N/A N/A 17.2 million
Telkom 7.8 million 1.9 million 9.7 million

Now read: Vodacom data prices could be cut in half – Or they could get even more expensive

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Mobile subscribers in South Africa – Vodacom vs MTN