Mobile broadband eating into voice revenues

Internet demand is slicing into networks’ voice revenues as adult South African cellphone owners increasingly adjust their budgets for data use.

This is according to the Mobility 2012 research study, conducted by World Wide Worx with the backing of First National Bank.

The study showed that the proportion of the average user’s cellphone spend on data has increased by 50% in the past 18 months – from 8% of budget at the end of 2010 to 12% in mid–2012.

Spending on voice has dropped from 77% to 73% in the same period – precisely matching the difference in data spend. Meanwhile, SMS spend remains steady at 12%, and full music tracks feature for the first time – taking up 1% of the average spend on a cellphone.

“Spend on data is a barometer for the rapid increase both in number of Internet users in South Africa and in the intensity with which experienced users engage with the Internet,” said Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx.

Arthur Goldstuck
Arthur Goldstuck

The biggest increase in specific uses of data on the phone were seen in instant messaging services, with more than a fivefold increase in the proportion of BBM users in the past 18 months – from 3% to 17% of adult cellphone users living in cities and towns – and WhatsApp emerging from nowhere to claim a quarter of adult cellphone users.

Proportionally, the biggest growth after BBM was seen in the Twitter user base, which rose from 6% to 12% of adult cellphone owners.

The Mobility 2012 project comprises two reports, namely The Mobile Consumer in SA 2012 which includes cellphone usage and banking trends, and The Mobile Internet in SA 2012 which explores online and data trends. It is based on face-to-face interviews with a nationally representative sample of South African adult cellphone users living in cities and towns, conducted in June 2012.

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Mobile broadband eating into voice revenues