South Africans love their smartphones and mobile data

ICASA has released its latest State of the ICT Sector in South Africa report, detailing the trends in the country’s mobile data sector.

ICASA is responsible for the collection of statistics to monitor and report on the progress of ICT in the country, and monitors aspects such as smartphone adoption and mobile data usage.

“The questionnaires used to collect the relevant information were customised for the three sectors that ICASA regulates, namely telecommunications, broadcasting and postal,” said ICASA.

Responses were received from 84 Electronic Communication Services and Electronic Communication Network Services licensees, which was “a significant increase of 82.61%” compared to the previous reporting period.

The report showed that mobile data usage and smartphone adoption are on the rise in South Africa, with a big jump in both categories from 2016 to 2017 – measured at 30 September 2017.

Smartphone subscriptions

ICASA defined a smartphone as a mobile phone with advanced features, Wi-Fi connectivity, web browsing capabilities, a high-resolution touchscreen display, and the ability to use apps.

Its data shows that smartphone subscriptions increased by 72.9% from 2016 to 2017, as detailed in the graph below.

ICASA Smartphone subs

Mobile data traffic

Mobile data traffic also experienced a sharp increase, increasing by 67.3% from 2016 to 2017.

Over the past three years, mobile data traffic increased by 61.0% in South Africa, said ICASA.

ICASA Mobile traffic

Cellular subscriptions

Cellular subscriptions in the country were relatively flat overall, reaching just over 87 million as at 30 September 2017.

What is interesting to note is the steady decline in local post-paid mobile users over the past three years.

ICASA added that certain mobile networks count a user as someone who has not deactivated their SIM in a 90-day period – hence the subscriber number being higher than the country’s population.

ICASA mobile subscribers

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South Africans love their smartphones and mobile data