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Mobile, data services critical to Zimbabwe's telecom growth

Mobile, data services critical to Zimbabwe's telecom growth

Zimbabwe's fixed phone operator, TelOne is witnessing revenue growth in data but a decline in its landline business, according to the Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz).

In a telecoms industry report for Q2 2017 released yesterday, the regulator confirmed an increase in the number of active mobile subscriber numbers.

It also stated that in the second quarter period to the end of June, TelOne experienced a 2.2% decline in revenue to US$28.5 million, compared to income for Q1 2017.

"The contribution of voice service to total revenue continued to decline, whereas the contribution of data and internet services increased," said Potraz.

The increased contribution of TelOne's internet services - which grew by 4.8% to 37.8% - has been attributed to "growing usage" while the contribution of voice services declined by 1.5% to 60.5% "due to declining voice" traffic.

Active fixed telephone lines increased by 3.7% to just above 267 000, while the teledensity remained at 1.9%.

State-controlled TelOne has been struggling with debt owed mostly by other government departments and parastatals.

During the quarter period under review, total fixed voice traffic increased by 6.3% to approximately 1 billion. TelOne also enhanced its switching capacity by 11.2% and says it can now accommodate 525,989 subscribers.

On the mobile telephony front, all three of Zimbabwe's mobile operators - Econet, NetOne and Telecel Zimbabwe - generated 3.2% in revenue amounting to US$185.6 million during the second quarter period under review.

"The aggregate average revenue per user per month remained at $3.98. The aggregate average costs per user per month declined by 2.3% to record $3 from $3.07 to $3 recorded in the previous quarter," the regulator stated.

Total overage operating costs declined by 3.3% to US$131.5 million from US$135.8million recorded in the previous quarter.

Zimbabwe has about 7902 base stations (including 2G, 3G and 4G stations) following the installation of 94 new base stations during the period.

The country is said to have a total of 13.3 million mobile subscriptions, representing a 2.6% increase on the previous quarter period. This has boosted the local mobile penetration rate which has increased by 2.5% to reach 97%.

However, service to rural areas remains a challenge and Potraz says only about 28.6% of the total base stations are in rural areas, implying that mobile "network rollout by operators is concentrated on the urban areas" of Zimbabwe.

Experts believe this will strengthen the case for Potraz as far as infrastructure sharing is concerned.

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