Mobile subscribers in South Africa – Vodacom vs MTN vs Cell C vs Telkom

While major South African operators have seen subdued subscriber growth over the past year, Telkom has been fighting back with an impressive increase in mobile users.

Telkom’s mobile subscribers have increased by a staggering 75.7% over the last year, with the operator now boasting 11.5 million customers.

This subscriber base comprises 9.4 million prepaid and 2.1 million postpaid customers. The number of prepaid customers almost doubled compared to last year, while postpaid subscribers grew by 26.1%

Telkom noted that the growth was paired with a decline in prepaid and postpaid ARPU, although its mobile service revenue still saw strong growth of 56.6%.

“Our mobile business continues to be the fastest-growing business in the market with market share gain underpinned by our affordable broadband-led propositions, which continue to resonate with customers,” Telkom said.

Growth and competition

While Telkom’s mobile subscriber numbers continue to soar, MTN and Vodacom look relatively stagnant.

These operators have seen slight increases in their subscriber numbers, but nowhere near the massive growth experienced by Telkom Mobile.

Cell C is in an especially vulnerable position, as Telkom is now nearing its size in terms of mobile customers.

Excluding broadband, wholesale, MVNO, and business service provider customers, Cell C is left with a total of 13.6 million subscribers.

This places it within Telkom’s crosshairs, as it is only around 2 million subscribers ahead while being in a more precarious financial position.

We compared the real customer base of Telkom, MTN, Vodacom, and Cell C according to their latest published trading results.

Mobile subscribers

Vodacom’s interim results for the six months ended 31 September 2019 shows it now has a total of 43.9 million customers in South Africa, comprising 37.9 million prepaid and 6.0 million contract customers.

MTN’s quarterly trading update for the period ended 30 September 2019 reflected that it has a local mobile subscriber base of 29.2 million subscribers, which works out to 26 million customers after deducting the operator’s telemetry subscribers.

Cell C’s latest financial results reflect 16 million South African customers, which works out to 13.6 million after deducting MVNO, business, wholesale, and broadband subscribers.

Telkom’s interim results for the period ended 30 September 2019 showed that it had a total of 11.5 million mobile subscribers.

Network Prepaid Postpaid Total
Vodacom 37.9 million 6.0 million 43.9 million
MTN 23.3 million 2.7 million 26.0 million
Cell C 12.5 million 1.1 million 13.6 million
Telkom 9.4 million 2.1 million 11.5 million

Now read: Vodacom spends R4.8 billion in 6 months to improve its network

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Mobile subscribers in South Africa – Vodacom vs MTN vs Cell C vs Telkom