Data revenue: MTN vs Vodacom

South Africa’s mobile operators are increasingly talking up the importance of data demand as the future revenue driver amid declining voice.

BusinessTech compares the data revenue and prospects of South Africa’s two largest operators, Vodacom and MTN relating mostly to their business in South Africa.

MTN

In a quarterly update for the period ended September 2013, MTN Group President and CEO, Sifiso Dabengwa said of the group: “Data and mobile money remain a key focus for the group with traditional voice revenue under pressure.”

In South Africa, MTN said that data remains the largest contributor to revenue growth with an increase of 16.6% (YoY). Data users increased to 13.9 million in the reporting period out of a total subscriber base of 25.2 million.

In its results for the year ended 2012, reported in March, MTN said that data traffic on its network was 65.9% higher at 30,521 TB, with South Africa the main driver of data revenue, contributing 43.9% of the total.

Data revenue increased by 37.6% to R6.4 billion and contributed 15.5% to total revenue (excluding SMS).

Data revenue was boosted by the increase in data users to 13.4 million from 10.9 million, and 5.5 million smartphones on the network.

Data revenue in South Africa 2006-2013 (ZAR billions)

Year Vodacom MTN Telkom (ADSL) Telkom Mobile
2006 2.038 1.938
2007 3.342 2.756
2008 4.67 2.69 8.308
2009 5.973 2.475 9.31
2010 4.614 3.638 9.969
2011 6.18 4.646 10.699*
2012 7.639 6.4 10.237* 0.163
2013 8.882 10.801* 0.364

Figures taken from annual reports | *Including Mobile Data revenue

Vodacom

In reporting results for the year ended March 2013, in May, Vodacom Group CEO, Shameel Joosub said he expects data revenue to account for up to 30% of total revenue within the next three years, driven by the operator’s South African operations.

For Vodacom of late, its been a story of higher penetration of smartphones and increased mobile internet usage.

Data revenue in its annual results for SA increased 16.3% to R8.88 billion, contributing 18.4% to service revenue compared to 15.8% in the prior year.

Fourth quarter data revenue growth was above 20%, while the total number of smartphones on its network improved to 6.0 million and average monthly usage increased 43.4% to 139MB.

Vodacom reported 14.4 million active data customers, up 18.1%, and out of a total active base of  30.3 million subscribers.

And in results for the quarter ended June 2013, Vodacom noted that data revenue in South Africa increased 21.8%, accounting for 21.3% of service revenue, up from 17.5% before.

At 30 June 2013, Vodacom noted that its active data customers totaled 14.4 million, up 16.5% from the prior year.

SA Data revenue
SA Data revenue

Telkom Mobile and Cell C

In results for the year ended March 2013, Telkom reported a 123.3% rise in mobile data revenue to R364 million. Telkom Mobile‘s share of all mobile operators’ year on year data revenue growth was 8.6%.

Cell C is not obliged to provide its financial results, however, CEO, Alan Knott-Craig has said that the company has doubled the traffic on its network over the last 12 months. “When you come to the data traffic, I think its quadrupled,” the CEO has said previously.

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Data revenue: MTN vs Vodacom