Mobile phone operators invest ZWL2.15 bn in Q3

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Harare (New Ziana) –Zimbabwe’s three mobile phone companies, Econet, NetOne and Telecel invested a combined ZW$2.15 billion in the third quarter of this year towards improving voice and data network provision, a sector report shows.

In a third quarter report, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (Potraz) said capital expenditure by mobile operators amounted to ZWL2.15 billion, up from ZW300.5 million invested in the second quarter of 2022.

The mobile operators invested in areas including deployment of 3G, LTE and 5G technologies.

“3G technology had the highest number of deployments (139). The installation of an additional 120 LTE eNode Bs was also considerable. The decline in 2G base stations is attributable to an upgrade exercise, where some 2G base stations were decommissioned and replaced with 3G,” POTRAZ said.

“There have been no major shifts in base station market shares over the years. The positions remain constant, with Econet being dominant in all technologies i.e., 2G, 3G and LTE. They (Econet) are also the first operator to roll out 5G. Nevertheless, NetOne has been making strides in improving their 3G and LTE coverage.”

However, the deployment and distribution of the mobile base stations remains largely skewed in favour of urban areas, especially in relation to broadband technologies such as 3G, LTE and 5G.

Meanwhile, mobile revenues grew by 104.3 percent to ZWL79.5 billion in the period under review, from ZWL38.9 billion in the previous quarter.

“In absolute terms, all mobile networks recorded significant increases in revenues in the quarter under review,” Potraz said.

“Voice is still the main revenue contributor for the mobile network operators. However, its contribution has been declining gradually over the years, with the contribution of Internet and data rising and steadily replacing voice. This trend continued into the third quarter of 2022.”

Mobile voice traffic was recorded at 3.08 billion minutes, from 2.35 billion minutes recorded in the second quarter of 2022, an increase driven by net-on-net traffic due to promotional offerings.

On the other hand, mobile internet and data usage increased by 26.1 percent to 32,473.1 terabytes (a unit of digital data), from 25,756 terabytes recorded in the second quarter of 2022.

One terabyte of data is equal to 1 000 gigabytes.

“Total mobile Internet and data traffic has been consistently growing during the year. The trend is expected to continue as access improves and the scope of services increases,” said Potraz.

“In the quarter under review, NetOne gained Internet and data usage market share by a margin of 4.9 percent, in line with the growth in traffic. On the other hand, Econet and Telecel lost market share by 4.6 percent and 0.3 percent respectively.”

On the downside, operating costs for mobile phone companies increased by 97.1 percent to record ZWL48.6 billion in the third quarter of 2022, from ZWL24.6 billion recorded in the second quarter of 2022.

Bandwidth costs constituted the bulk of operating costs by mobile operators (30.1 percent), followed by staff costs (19 percent).

“The trend of rising costs is attributable to the inflationary pressures in the economy, from which the sector has not been spared,” POTRAZ said.
New Ziana

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