Network providers push growth in data business

AFTER clinging on to traditional practices of focusing on voice revenues, Zimbabwe’s three mobile phone network providers are visibly warming up to international trends with the players pushing growth in their data businesses.

Staff Writer.

Apart from data, other overlay services such as mobile money transfer platforms and value added products are beginning to get attention by operators, much to the benefit of consumers.

Zimbabwe’s mobile penetration rate stands at 98% while internet permutation rate is at 47% giving more room for business to push their products.

Last week,the country’s largest mobile company, Econet Wireless (Econet), said it had a strategy to grow overlay and non-voice operations as a means to drive revenue growth going forward.

“Our business growth strategy will see us increase data capacity and capability as well as stimulating usage of data through new products which will be unveiled,” Mboweni said.

He said the move was informed by global research which notes that data revenues will contribute more than SMS and MMS by 2017 and voice revenues will be less than 50% of gross revenues at the time.

“The contribution of voice revenues to mobile operators is expected to decline. Data or broadband is expected to grow exponentially and overlays are also expected to make a significant contribution,” Mboweni said in a presentation.

Econet has embarked on a drive to improving smartphone penetration to drive data usage.

The company in partnership with a Chinese multinational networking and telecommunications equipment and services company Huawei Technologies Co Ltd this weekend launched a variety of affordable high speed smart phones and tablets.

Mboweni said Econet is also investing in reliable high speed internet with the widest coverage and robust infrastructure unparalleled by any other operator.

In a half year results presentation for the period to August 2013, Econet said data users had grown by 52% year-on-year on its network from 2,5 to 3,8 million users with over 60% growth in usage per subscriber having been registered.

The company has introduced smart bundles which have seen users enjoying data usage at cheaper rates. Econet subscribers can now also use data to make voice calls at more than half the normal costs of voice calls.

Econet, through its subsidiary Liquid Telecom, has successfully over 4 500km of fibre in Zimbabwe and is putting fibre connectivity to residential suburbs in order to increase home internet usage.

The second largest network provider Telecel last month reduced from US$30 to US$25 the cost of its data dongle to enable more people to access data from their computer affordably and conveniently by taking advantage of Telecel’s fast data speeds and affordable data bundles.

The gadget is high speed to allow for optimal download and upload speeds and comes with 300MB of data and 30 SMSs already pre-loaded.

Telecel also has new super voice bundles for 90 minutes at 50 US cents and 200 minute bundle for US $1. The data package means subscribers can call for as little as 1 US cent per minute. The mobile company also has Telecel red handset deals where it is pushing smartphones and tablets which can be bought on 11 and 24 month plans.

State owned NetOne is giving stiff competition, giving its subscribers broadband internet access and beyond at low prices ranging from as low as 2,5 US cents per megabyte to 4,3 US cents per megabyte and lasting between 30 and 120 days depending on the amount of data purchased.

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