Mobile operator, Vodacom says that 40% of its contract network consists of smartphone users, “and increasing rapidly”.
Speaking at a media briefing in Midrand on Friday (1 March), Shameel Joosub, CEO at Vodacom Group said: “In the last quarter we added a half a million smartphones. We have 14 million people using data, and that’s growing quite rapidly.”
In financial results for the quarter ended 31 December 2012, Vodacom reported an active customer base of 30.581 million subscribers in South Africa, with 24.712 million on prepaid, and 5.869 million on contract.
It also reported a churn rate of 54.9%, up from 46.8% in the period up to September 2012, while total ARPU for the period climbed to R134, against R127 in September 2012.
Contract ARPU for the December period declined slightly to R329, from R337 in September, and R362 in December 2011, while prepaid ARPU climbed to R81, from R74 in September, but down from R96 rand in December 2011.
Vodacom’s new chief consumer officer, Phil Patel, told the media at Vodacom’s head offices on Friday that approximately 70% of new contracts consisted of smartphone packages, with 30% still requesting feature phones.
On Friday Vodacom announced that it will be launching new smartplans that include unlimited voice calls, unlimited SMSs, ‘loads’ of data and a range of new value added services.
“The idea now is to push as many smartphones into people’s hands,” Joosub said. He noted that Vodacom has in the past bundled items together including free coffee machines, and free braai. “I always used to make a joke with my staff to say …people cant use data through a braai stand. Now you want to get people to use data, you had better give them a data device. So stop giving away free braai stands and give people a better phone.”
“We are actually putting a bigger focus in terms of the number of smartphones that we are driving out, bot in prepaid and in contract,” he said.
Vodacom said it would also buy back its customer’s old device and get a price reduction on their new contract.