MTN subscriber growth slows

MTN Group has reported lower than anticipated subscriber growth in the third quarter amid continued price competition and subscriber registration requirements across a number of markets.

The opertor grew its total subscriber base only 1.1% to 203.8 million in a quarterly update for the nine-month period ended September 2013, from 201.5 million in the prior quarter, and from 195.4 million in Q1.

MTN Group President and CEO, Sifiso Dabengwa said: “The third quarter has been characterised by lower than anticipated subscriber growth following ongoing price competition and subscriber registration requirements across a number of markets.

“Subscriber growth was limited to 1.1% quarter on quarter (QoQ) mainly impacted by disconnections in Nigeria related to registration requirements, slower than expected subscriber growth in South Africa, as well as slower subscriber growth in Iran.”

MTN said that data and mobile money remain a key focus for the group with traditional voice revenue under pressure.

Group data revenue  increased by 34.7% year on year (YoY), contributing 14.1% to total revenue while mobile money subscribers increased 10.7% QoQ to 13.4 million across 13 operations.

MTN South Africa

Dabengwa said that MTN South Africa showed some progress after a challenging first half, “but we expect conditions to remain challenging for the balance of 2013”.

The operation added 233,000 subscribers bringing the total of subscribers to 25.2 million at the end of the quarter. This was attributable to more competitive product offerings and focused marketing campaigns.

MTN said that revenue growth declined, (YoY) mainly due to lower effective voice tariffs and slower subscriber growth.

ARPU however, grew a fraction from R105.40 to R106.06.

Data remains the largest contributor to revenue growth with an increase of 16.6% (YoY). Data users increased to 13.9 million as a result of attractive data packages.

MTN South Africa said it continues to engage with the regulator on the proposed draft interconnect regulations.

MTN Nigeria

MTN Nigeria grew subscribers marginally (0.6%) to 55.6 million. This was impacted by the mandatory SIM registration deadline in July 2013, the disconnections in the Borneo state following the slowdown of services as well as lower gross connections in the GSM market.

“These factors will continue to impact net additions for the balance of the year,” MTN said.

The group pointed to a significant improvement in network quality with 812 2G and 497 3G sites added in the quarter.

Irancell

MTN Irancell‘s subscriber base declined by 1.7% to 41,3 million (QoQ). The slowdown in gross connections was due to the weakening economy in a fully penetrated market and increased promotional activities by the competitor. The withdrawal of the 2in1 offering also impacted subscriber growth.

MTN noted that the positive revenue trend evidenced at the interim period continued in the third quarter.

Other operations

MTN Ghana’s subscribers grew 1.4% to 12.8 million, while MTN Cameroon upped its subscriber base 7.0% to 8.2 million.

MTN Ivory Coast increased its subscribers by 1.7% to 6.7 million, while MTN Uganda reported strong results, increasing its subscriber base by 4.3% to 8.4 million.

MTN Sudans subscriber base decreased marginally (0.3%)  in the quarter, to 8.4 million, while MTN Syria subscribers increased by 5.1% to 5.8 million but security, power outages and insufficient fuel supply remain some of the key challenges.

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MTN subscriber growth slows