Vumatel overtakes Openserve as biggest fibre-to-the-home operator in South Africa

The latest statistics for South Africa’s fibre market show that in March 2019, 1.39 million homes had access to an FTTH connection and 453,000 were connected.

Wayne D’Sa, the managing director of Cipherwave, presented a summary of these statistics at the MyBroadband Fibre Conference, hosted on 17 July 2019. D’Sa was giving a presentation on the state of the Internet Service Provider (ISP) industry in South Africa.

In addition to giving an overall update on the number of homes passed and connected by FTTH networks, the data also portrayed a breakdown of market share.

According to D’Sa, Vumatel has overtaken Telkom’s Openserve division in terms of the number of homes their networks touch. The statistic is measured by looking at the number of homes the network passes where there is also a breakout.

It should be emphasised that this statistic does not look at the overall footprint of the various fibre networks — only last-mile connectivity. Openserve still operates the biggest network in South Africa, with over 146,000km of fibre in the ground.

Openserve also still has the higher connection rate, with 165,000 households actually taking up fibre services on its network. Vumatel has connected 138,000 houses.

Expressed as market share, Vumatel has 36.6% of the market in terms of homes passed with breakout. Openserve has 30.9% of that market.

In terms of homes connected, the market share of the two biggest players is reversed. Openserve has 36.5% of the number of houses connected, while Vumatel has 30.5%.

Telkom getting hammered

Telkom financial results for the year ended 31 March 2019 revealed a massive decline in fixed broadband subscribers – down from 981,176 in March 2018 to 847,650 in March 2019.

This is by far the biggest fixed broadband decline Telkom has ever seen and equates to losing over 21,000 subscribers each month.

Despite facing increased competition from the likes of Vumatel and Octotel, Telkom’s financial results show that it has elected to reduce its ongoing investment in FTTH.

Telkom decreased the capital expenditure on its fibre network from R2.112 billion in its 2017/2018 financial year, to R1.216 billion in the 2018/2019 financial year.

Telkom said in its annual results that its investment in FTTH was “rationalised as we focus on areas showing a propensity for higher connectivity rates”.

The company said its FTTH connectivity rate improved to 38.4% — the highest connectivity rate in the market.

“We are prudent in our homes passed by fibre strategy and focus on homes connected,” Telkom said.

Now read: Interesting results from big South African FTTH survey

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Vumatel overtakes Openserve as biggest fibre-to-the-home operator in South Africa