Mobile data usage doubles

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Mobile data dominates internet data usage because the mobile phone remains the most available gadget for communication in the country

Net-on-net traffic experienced the biggest decline of 6,4% and this can be attributed to the discontinuation of a number of promotions in the quarter under review

Mobile data usage is seen doubling in 2016 compared to 2015 on account of investment in new technology while consumers opt for cheaper over-the-top services such as WhatsApp and Facebook bundles, latest figures show.

 By Taurai Mangudhla

De-industrialisation is persisting in the country, with hundreds of companies shutting down and thousands losing their jobs.

The few formally employed citizens must contend with salary cuts and low disposable income.

Over-the-top services have gained popularity, especially after WhatsApp introduced voice calls and, more recently, video on top of the instant messaging platform.

Mobile data utilisation increased by 16,1% to record 2,157,903,415 megabytes from 1,857,944,258 MB recorded in the previous quarter, according to the Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz)’s 2016 3rd quarter report.

“The 2016 total data usage is likely to double that of 2015. The total mobile data usage for the first 9 months of 2016 was 5,526,267,265 MB (5,525.3 TB) and has already exceeded 3,622,860,182 MB (3,682.9 TB) used in 2015,” said Potraz in the report.

The increase in internet usage comes as total voice traffic declined by 3,6% to record 1,149,533,489 minutes from 1,192,571,970 minutes recorded in the previous quarter.

“Net-on-net traffic experienced the biggest decline of 6,4% and this can be attributed to the discontinuation of a number of promotions in the quarter under review,” said Potraz.

The telecoms regulator said operators have been increasing capacity to match the growing demand for internet. Equipped incoming international internet bandwidth increased from 75,230 megabits per second (Mbps) to reach 75,385 Mbps following commissioning of additional capacity.

Of the 75,385 Mbps of incoming equipped international internet bandwidth capacity, Potraz said 28,469 Mbps were used. Used outgoing international internet bandwidth was 12,129 Mbps. The third quarter of 2016 was characterised by a decline in active mobile and internet subscriptions. As a result of the decline in active mobile telephone subscriptions, the mobile penetration rate declined from 97% to 94,3%.

“This is the first time that the mobile penetration rate has declined since 2015,” said Potraz.

The total number of base stations in the country increased by 3,1% to reach 7,589 from 7,356 recorded in the previous quarter following the commissioning of 233 more base stations.

Of the 233 new base stations, 22 were second-generation wireless network (2G) while 77 and 134 were 3G and LTE Node Bs respectively.

The third quarter of 2016 was characterised by improved revenue performance for the mobile operators as well as the Internet Access Providers (IAPs).

Mobile network operators recorded a 20,4% growth in revenues from US$161,5 million in the second quarter of the year to US$194,5 million in the period under review.

Potraz said the growth in mobile and IAP revenues led to a 14,5% increase in total telecommunication revenues to record US$262,021,721 from US$228,748,120 recorded in the previous quarter.

“On the other hand, total revenue generated by the postal and courier operators declined by 0,2% as a result of depressed volumes. Postal and courier volumes declined by 2,4% to record 2,2 million from 2,3 million postal and courier items recorded in the 2nd quarter of 2016,” Potraz added.

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