The most popular mobile network in South Africa

Following the release of MTN’s latest financial results at the end of June, MyBroadband recently looked at the subscriber numbers of South Africa’s mobile networks.

Unsurprisingly, South Africa’s two biggest mobile companies Vodacom and MTN have retained their leads – with 43.1 million and 30.2 million users respectively.

By comparison, Cell C currently boasts 16.3 million users, and Telkom 5.2 million – bringing the total number of users (across the big four networks) in the country to 94.8 million.

Mobile network Active subscribers
Vodacom 43.1 million
MTN 30.2 million
Cell C 16.3 million
Telkom 5.2 million

These subscriber numbers are especially interesting when looking at the mid-year population estimates released by Statistics South Africa, which estimated that 57.7 million people were living in the country as of 1 July 2018.

This effectively means that there are 1.64 SIM cards from South Africa’s ‘big four’ for every South African in the country – with Vodacom alone accounting for nearly half of all of these.

Speaking to BusinessTech, a Vodacom spokesperson said that it does not report on the number of customers which have multiple Vodacom SIM cards, and it would not disclose how much it expects this 43 million number to increase in the coming year.

However it revealed that roughly half of its subscribers use either data only or data and other services – which may explain why some of its customers purchase multiple SIM cards.

“Certain customers prefer to have multiple SIM cards for their various devices,” Vodacom said.

“For example, a single customer might have SIM cards for a cell phone, a laptop, a tablet device and an alarm system.”

According to its latest trading update published at the end of June, the group has showed positive results, with service revenue up 5.2%.

The company also added 2.5 million customers during the quarter – 1.5 million in South Africa and 1 million in its international operations.

This puts Vodacom at 76.5 million customers across the group – up 10.3% year-on-year.

“Contract customer revenue growth has recovered from declines in previous quarters, to grow at 0.8%. The growth was supported by improved performance in the enterprise segment, reflecting customer and ARPU gains from recent contract sign-ups and improved usage,” said Vodacom at the time.

“We continue to drive bundle engagement aggressively to ensure a worry-free experience for our customers. The success of this pricing strategy, making data more affordable for our customers, has resulted in a 32.2% increase in data bundle sales and an overall effective price per MB reduction of 17.1%,” it added.


Read: ANC demands lower data prices from mobile operators

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The most popular mobile network in South Africa