MOBILE telecommunications company Telecel Zimbabwe has recorded the
highest number of inactive subscribers as about 32 percent of the
country’s mobile subscribers are inactive.
According to the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) sector performance report for the first quarter of the year, 12 900 173 mobile subscriptions are active after recording a 1,1 percent increase from the same period last year.
The report showed that of the three service providers, Telecel which has 4 278 800 subscribers has the highest percentage of inactive subscribers at 57,3 percent while Econet and Netone recorded 27,7 percent and 19,7 percent respectively.
An active mobile subscription is defined as a mobile line which has been used to make and or receive a call, send and or receive a message or used the internet within the past three months.
“Telecel was the only operator to experience a decline in active subscriptions. On the other hand NetOne had the largest growth in active subscriptions. This is attributed to the intensity of promotions on the NetOne network hence consumers move to maximise their utility,” said Potraz.
Potraz said the total number of mobile subscriptions in the country declined by 2,5 percent due to the removal of unused lines from the networks while the total number of active subscriptions increased by 1,1 percent as compared to the previous quarter.
“Mobile lines that exceed one year of no activity are removed from the network by the mobile operators. As a result of the increase in the active subscriptions, the mobile penetration rate increased from 95,4 percent to 96,5 percent,” said Potraz.
In an interview, an IT expert said the reason why some operators have more active subscribers and a larger base has to do with national coverage as users want convenience in spite of where they are.
“Some networks are not reachable in certain areas of the country and people prefer to use an operator that has national coverage. The other issue has to do with quality of service as well as the cost of service,” said the expert who declined to be named.
Meanwhile, statistics from Potraz showed a growing popularity of Over the Top (OTT) services such as WhatsApp calling and Skype at the expense of mobile voice traffic with the total national voice traffic declining by 15,3 percent to record 1 billion minutes compared to the previous quarter’s 1,2 billion.
Potraz said international traffic has been the most affected recording a 16,5 and 13,8 percent decline in incoming and outgoing traffic respectively.
“OTT voice applications such as Viber, Skype and WhatsApp calling have become popular alternatives for international calling as they are significantly cheaper. This has resulted in falling international voice traffic and in turn falling revenue from international voice services,” the authority said.
The growing use of OTTs over GSM (Global System for Mobile communication) is being attributed to penetration of internet service and the increase in the number of internet service providers which has subsequently led to data becoming cheaper.
According to IT experts OTTs have also come with additional functionalities like video calling on IMO and Skype.
“OTTs are easier to use, cheap and convenient. People who call their relatives overseas sometimes would have gone for years without seeing them but OTTs bring the convenience of face time through video calls, a functionality that is not there on mobile traffic.
In order not to lose revenue to these services, operators should consider establishing partnerships and synergies so as to find means of revenue sharing with OTT providers,” said an IT expert Mr Albert Musiwa.
NetOne acting chief executive officer Mr Brian Mutandiro said the operator was customer-centric and listen to the needs of their subscribers.
“We launched our highly popular One Fusion this year and revamped our Dollar A Day package, all this as a direct response to our subscribers. In areas like Bulawayo and the entire Matabeleland region we introduced recharge cards in the rand denomination. Further to this, we managed to put up over 900 base stations across the country this year alone, meaning the quality of our network is excellent,” said Mr Mutandiro.
He said the company was continuing with its strategy of taking subscribers’ views and requests with the seriousness they deserve.
He said NetOne will soon be launching many Value Added Services (VAS) so that subscribers get maximum benefits. sunday news