Mobile subscribers in South Africa – Vodacom vs MTN

Mobile networks in South Africa have undergone significant changes over the past few months, and this is reflected in their subscriber numbers.

The COVID-19 pandemic, the ripple effects of ICASA’s End-User and Subscriber Service Charter, and recent directives from the Competition Commission have all been cited as factors affecting mobile subscriber numbers in South Africa.

MTN recently published its quarterly update for the period ended 31 March 2020, which showed a minor drop in subscribers numbers in South Africa.

The company saw a drop in prepaid subscribers of 100,000, while its postpaid subscriber base remained flat.

MTN South Africa has a total of 22.7 million prepaid subscribers and 6.3 million postpaid customers, which equates to 3.1 million postpaid users after excluding telemetry customers.

In the company’s latest trading update, MTN Group CEO Rob Shuter said the performance of its South African business was encouraging.

“We are encouraged by the stabilisation of the consumer prepaid business which was affected by the implementation of the new out-of-bundle data usage rules,” Shuter said.

“MTN SA has seen its prepaid business starting to recover, following the impact of regulation changes, while the postpaid customer base saw an increase in net additions in challenging macro and competitive environment.”

Mobile subscribers

To see the total mobile subscriber numbers in South Africa, we compared prepaid and postpaid subscribers counts from Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, and Telkom.

Telkom and Cell C boast similar subscriber numbers, although Telkom is expected to overtake Cell C in subscribers in the near future – as Cell C’s subscriber numbers have steadily declined over the last year.

Vodacom’s annual results for the year ended 31 March 2020 showed it now has 41.3 million customers in South Africa, comprising 35.2 million prepaid and 6.1 million contract customers.

MTN’s quarterly trading update for the period ended 31 March 2020 reflected that it has a local mobile subscriber base of 25.8 million subscribers, comprising 22.7 million prepaid and 3.1 million postpaid customers.

Cell C’s latest financial results reflect 14.4 million South African customers, which works out to 12 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 35.2 million 6.1 million 41.3 million
MTN 22.7 million 3.1 million 25.8 million
Cell C 10.9 million 1.1 million 12.0 million
Telkom 9.4 million 2.1 million 11.5 million

Now read: Telkom cuts uncapped ADSL prices – Starting at R199

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Mobile subscribers in South Africa – Vodacom vs MTN