HARARE – Revenue for local Internet Access Providers (IAPs) increased 7,4 percent to $33,7 million from $31,4 million in the first quarter of this year, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) said.
In a report for the period under review, Potraz also said mobile phone network operators (MNOs) posted a 14,2 percent revenue slump on the back of the use of the cross-platform mobile messaging application, WhatsApp, by most mobile users.
“Revenues by Internet Access Providers (IAPs) increased by 7,4 percent to record $33,7 million from $31,4 million generated in the previous quarter…
“In the first quarter of 2015 mobile network operators generated a total of $188 546 846. This represents a 14,2 percent decline in quarterly revenues from $219 707 438 generated in the quarter of 2014,” Potraz said adding that fixed telephone voice service generated a total of $35,7 million representing a 19 percent slump on prior period.
However, the watchdog organisation also noted that the number of active Internet subscriptions declined by 1,6 percent to reach 5,8 million subscribers from 5,9 million subscribers recorded in the previous quarter.
Lit/equipped International Internet bandwidth capacity increased by 1,2 percent to reach 26,950Mbps from 26,640Mbps recorded in the previous quarter.
According to Potraz, the Internet penetration rate declined from 45 percent to 44,3 percent as a result of the decline in Internet subscribers.
Meanwhile, the 14, 2 percent decline in revenue for MNOs during the quarter to $188 million comes as mobile money revenue has also been recording steady declines. Zimbabwe has three MNOs, Econet, NetOne and Telecel.
According to Potraz, various factors led to the revenue slump for MNOs, with the main one being a decline in voice telephony, highlighting that the reduction in tariffs on January 1 this year had little effect on revenues.
Potraz early this year slashed mobile tariffs by over 30 percent to 15 cents from an average 23 cents per minute and short messages from 9 cents to 5 cents.
“The decline in revenue cannot be wholly attributable to the tariff reduction, but also to the substitution effect whereby consumers are slowly shifting to Internet and data-based applications such as WhatsApp which are becoming popular by the day.
“This is evidenced by the decline in voice traffic processed by the mobile operators and the increase in data traffic and revenue of 7,4 percent despite a marginal decline in the Internet penetration rate of 0,7 percent during the first quarter of 2015 compared to the last quarter of 2014,” the watchdog said.
The number of subscribers registered, however, marginally increased by 0,5 percent to
11 859 155 with Econet accounting for 55,8 percent of the market share while Telecel and NetOne had 17,5 percent and 26,7 percent respectively.
By the end of the fourth quarter of last year Zimbabwe had 11 798 652 subscribers.
Potraz also said fixed telephone voice services generated a total of $35 737 488 representing a 19,5 percent decline in revenue from $44 409 883 generated in the fourth quarter of 2014.