TELECEL and NetOne`s active subscriptions have been consistently declining over the past five quarters, resulting in the mobile penetration rate in the country falling by 1,6% to 92,6%, a new report has revealed.
Econet was the only mobile operator to register growth in active subscriptions, according to the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz)’s postal and telecommunications sector performance report for the first quarter of 2023.
In the period under review, the total number of active mobile telephone subscriptions declined by 1,7% to 14,05 million, from 14,3 million recorded in the previous quarter.
As a result, the mobile penetration rate declined by 1,6% to 92,6%.
“Econet was the only mobile operator to register growth in active subscriptions, however, the growth was a marginal 0,1%. Concerningly, Telecel and NetOne`s active subscriptions have been consistently declining over the past five consecutive quarters,” the report read in part.
Econet’s active subscribers stood at 9,99 million, followed by NetOne at 3,75 million and Telecel at merely 307 795.
Telecel’s subscribers dropped by 21,1% from the previous quarter, while NetOne fell 4,5%.
The report shows that NetOne and Telecel lost subscriber market share by 0,7% and 0,5%, respectively, in line with the decline in their active subscriptions. Conversely, Econet gained subscriber market share by 1,2% in the first quarter of 2023.
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The Potraz report also showed that mobile voice traffic declined by 16% to 2,5 billion minutes in the first quarter of 2023, from three billion minutes recorded in the fourth quarter of 2022.
It said net-on-net traffic has been consistently declining and the trend continued into the first quarter of 2023.
“As with fixed voice traffic, the decline in mobile voice traffic may be attributable to the 50% increase in tariffs in February 2023,” the report said.
“Substitution of traditional voice with over-the-top VoIP also plays a significant factor. The continuous decline may also be attributable to the deteriorating quality of service due to loadshedding resulting in lower call-success ratios.”
Econet and Telecel lost voice market share by 2,6% and 0,2%, respectively. On the other hand, NetOne gained voice traffic market share by 2,8%.
Mobile internet and data traffic increased by 12,3% to record 37 690,4 Terabytes in the first quarter of 2023, from 33 576,4 terabytes recorded in the fourth quarter of 2022.
Econet`s market share of internet and data declined by 7,2%, which was gained by NetOne. Telecel`s market share remained unchanged.
The report shows that aggregate operating costs continued to grow by a margin that surpasses growth in aggregate revenue, an indication that mobile operator operating costs are fast closing in on revenue, which indicates diminishing operator profits.
The operating costs galloped by 25,7% to $102,8 billion in the first quarter of this year compared to the prior period.