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Data dominates as Zimbabwe's voice fades

Data dominates as Zimbabwe's voice fades

Fixed phone connection lines in Zimbabwe are now increasingly being used for data connectivity, with data revenue outstripping fixed phone voice telephony income, according to a recent report released by the Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz).

State-owned TelOne is the only local fixed phone telco that also offers internet services and a Video–on-Demand (VoD).

In its 2019 second quarter telecom industry report released last week, Potraz stated that "the contribution of data increased, whereas the contribution of voice declined" during the period under review.

"The revenue contribution of data has exceeded the revenue contribution of voice service. On the other hand, operating costs grew by 45.1% to record ZWL60 million from ZWL41.3 million recorded in the first quarter of 2019," said the telecom industry regulator.

During the second quarter 2019 period under review, data contribution to overall revenue increased to 54.3%, significantly up from 48.2% recorded for the first quarter period. Voice contribution was 33.2% in the second quarter.

Fixed telephone revenues sector grew by 58.1% to record ZWL67.2 million compared to ZWL42.6 million recorded for the previous quarter.

Potraz attributed the growth in overall fixed telephone revenues to "the increase in tariffs as well as the transition from the multi-currency era as some foreign currency denominated income is now subjected to conversion" into local currency at the official exchange rate.

In the mobile telephony category, the regulator noted an "overall decline in mobile voice traffic in the second quarter of 2019" after voice traffic for the three operators - NetOne, Telecel Zimbabwe and Econet - declined by 1.1% to 1.39 billion minutes from 1.4 billion minutes recorded in the first quarter period.

International outgoing mobile traffic recorded the biggest decline of 42.7%, attributable to the increase in international tariffs in the quarter under review.

Corporates have increasingly been switching to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) platform, with VoIP traffic recording the "biggest growth of 14.9%" for the period. The flow of traffic between IAPs and mobile operators is also expected to strengthen.

However, mobile data and internet usage declined by 8.2% to record 9,367 terabytes from 10,201 terabytes recorded in the previous quarter.

All three of Zimbabwe's mobile operators recorded a decline in internet and data usage, with the decline being attributed to the upward review of promotional bundles and packages in the quarter under review.

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