MTN Group lifted its subscriber base to 182.7 million in a quarterly update for the period ended September 2012, while its South African subscriber base improved 4.1% quarter on quarter to 24.498 million, and from 20.968 million in Q3, 2011.
MTN South Africa’s continued momentum is mainly attributable to a strong performance in the pre-paid segment, which maintained market share and increased subscribers by 4.2%, it said.
MTN Group president and CEO Sifiso Dabengwa said: “MTN delivered a satisfactory set of results for the quarter ended 30 September 2012, increasing subscriber numbers by 3.8% to 182.7 million.
“The group’s performance was underpinned by solid operational management and the rollout of appealing value propositions despite aggressive pricing competition, regulations and economic challenges across the different markets in which the group operates. This solid operational performance over the past quarter has enabled MTN to increase guidance for net additions for 2012 from 21.25 million to 23.70 million,” he said.
“MTN has continued to implement on its strategic pillars of improving shareholder returns, developing existing and new revenue streams, optimising costs and improving customer experience. Most relevant during the quarter was the execution of competitive products and services in response to aggressive price declines in the market, a continued focus on data growth and improved network rollout,” Dabengwa said.
Looking forward to the balance of the year, the group head said that acceleration of its network expansion will be a key priority across the majority of its operations, as network quality remains a key enabler for the business.
In South Africa, the post-paid segment grew its subscriber base by 3.6% for the quarter increasing its market share marginally.
According to MTN, post-paid growth continues to be driven by hybrid offerings, which contributed 44% to the post-paid subscriber base. “Data delivered a satisfactory performance despite strong competition which has seen tariffs come down across the market. Local currency blended ARPU remained stable at R121.25,” it said.
“Prepaid ARPU showed an upward trend as minutes of use improved from lower tariffs and positive elasticity while postpaid ARPU continued to decline due to lower ‘out of bundle’ spend and a high volume of telemetry SIMS,” MTN said.
The operator said that although MTN Nigeria has continued to face a number of challenges, subscriber growth showed a healthy improvement during the quarter, increasing 5.7% to 45.640 million and maintaining market share. “This was largely due to successful competitive offerings, which saw significant price declines driven by promotional activities.”
Data continued to gain momentum, although growth in 2G data users was impacted by network congestion. Local currency ARPUs declined by 9.3% for the quarter mainly due to lower tariffs.
Network quality and capacity remains a priority and are being addressed through a comprehensive network rollout programme. MTN said this will be a key focus over the next six to 12 months.
MTN Irancell continued to deliver a sound operational performance despite an increasingly challenging economic and political environment. Irancell lifted subscribers 2.8% to 39.382 million, largely due to its attractive value propositions and network quality.
“However, growing competition and a high inflationary environment affected gross activations during the quarter. At the end of September 2012, MTN Irancell recorded 230,000 Wimax users,” the group said.
MTN noted that network rollout has been impacted slightly by delayed equipment delivery. Towards the end of the quarter the local currency depreciated substantially against the dollar and this will impact the translation of fourth quarter earnings. Furthermore, MTN warned that full-year earnings will be impacted by the translation of the balance sheet at the closing rate.
MTN Ghana increased its subscribers by 4.8% for the quarter – a strong result in a highly competitive market.
“This was supported by attractive acquisition and usage based promotions as well as effective management of sales and marketing. The company showed a marginal decline in market share following the launch of a new entrant at the end of the second quarter. Data continued to show good growth due to an increased focus on distribution and coverage,” MTN said.
MTN Syria increased its subscriber base by 2.0% despite the ongoing civil unrest. Local currency ARPU declined by 12.2% mainly due to network outages, particularly in the Aleppo area which is a key revenue generating region for the business.
“In the light of this ongoing unrest, pressure on ARPU and revenue is expected to continue for the balance of the year. Security of staff and assets remains a key priority for the business,” MTN said.
MTN Cameroon grew its subscribers by a mere 1.6% in the quarter. The slow growth was mainly due to a shortage in the number range, which has also resulted in a loss of market share. MTN said that this has subsequently been addressed.
Local currency ARPU declined by 3.9% in the quarter due to challenges on the EVD system impacting revenues in September, MTN said.
MTN Côte d’Ivoire increased its subscribers by less than 1%, while MTN Uganda’s performance was impacted by increased competition during the quarter and the business increased subscribers only marginally.
MTN said that its Sudan operation delivered a satisfactory performance despite the slow growth of the GSM market.