Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S mobile network penetration rate in the third quarter of 2015 increased by 1,3 percent to reach 92,8 percent.
In its latest quarterly report, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) attributed the upsurge in mobile penetration rate to the increased number of active mobile subscriptions during the period under review.
“The total number of active mobile subscriptions increased by 3.7 percent to reach 12,5 million subscriptions from 12 million recorded in the previous quarter. As a result, the mobile penetration rate increased by 1.3 percent to reach 92.8 percent from 91.5 percent recorded in the previous quarter,” said Potraz.
It said all the mobile operators during the period under review, with the exception of Telecel experienced increases in their active subscriber base.
In the third quarter, Telecel’s active subscribers declined to 1,91 million from 1,94 million the previous quarter.
During the period under review, Econet registered a 0,7 percent increase in active subscribers.
The mobile network’s active subscribers base stood at 6,8 million in the third quarter compared to 6,6 million the previous quarter.
NetOne registered a 12,4 percent increase in active subscribers to reach 3,8 million in the third quarter.
In the previous quarter, the mobile network operator had an active subscribers’ base of 3,4 million.
Potraz also indicated that mobile data utilisation increased by 20.3 percent in the third quarter.
“This increase shows growing demand for internet services in the country. The total national voice traffic increased by 8.8 percent to record 1.3 million minutes from 1.2 million minutes recorded in the previous quarter.
“This increase was mainly driven by the increase in net-on-net traffic owing to net-on-net promotions,” it said.
On the other hand international incoming and outgoing traffic declined by 0.3 percent and 1.2 percent respectively.
“The decline in international traffic is attributed to the proliferation of alternatives for communication such as WhatsApp and VoIP solutions such as Skype and Viber.”
The total revenue generated by the three mobile operators in the third quarter declined by 2,9 percent to $183,2 million from $188,5 million in the previous quarter.
“The increase in national voice traffic did not translate to an increase in revenues. This is because the traffic increase was driven by net-on-net calls which were being offered at discounted promotional rates.
“Mobile operators are still heavily dependent on voice service for their revenue. Voice service made up 60.1 percent of total mobile operator revenues in the quarter under review.”
In January last year, Potraz ordered mobile network operators to cut their voice tariffs to 15 cents per minute from a maximum of 23 cents per minute after the regulator adopted a new pricing model.
However, Potraz with effect from January 1, 2015 approved a 6,6 percent increase in mobile cellular voice calls and other related services.
This follows recommendations from operators who have been demanding a review citing operational challenges.
The latest development has seen mobile phone voice calls increasing to 16 cents per minute.
The telephone regulator also said national calls to mobile network will be pegged at the same rate.
Net-on- net SMS will now be charged at five cents and the same will apply for cross network messages.
The latest charges are in line with the Notice on Revised Implementation of Results of Long Run Incremental Costing (LRIC) Cost Studies Glide Path Regulatory Notice Number 5 of 2015 that was issued to all operators on December 2, 2015.