Following the souring dispute between over-the-top (OTT) players such as WhatsApp and Facebook; and the largest mobile operators in South Africa like MTN and Vodacom, one will be amazed as to why these mobile operators see the OTT as a big threat to their revenues.
The truth as revealed by World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck has it that the mobile operators are after their gain and not the good of the public.
In the past decade, the introduction of new technologies like WhatApp and Facebook, has left mobile networks challenged by the dwindling revenue made from voice call and SMS which have only been partially offset by an increase in data revenue as can be seen in the ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) numbers – which have been steadily declining over the years.
This is basically because the new technologies provide a cheaper, “free” alternatives to the “premium” pricing of texting and calling and as such, mobile networks are making less money from customers.
According to Businesstech, the ARPU is one of the key performance indicators reported by mobile networks to show the health of their business operations in the country.
The 2002 ARPU report figures compiled by BusinessTech, revealed a drastic decline in ARPU over the past decade with Vodacom and MTN which made up to R182 and R208 respectively in 2002 now earning as low as R116 and R96 respectively, in 2015.
The report therefore revealed that Vodacom makes the highest ARPU in South Africa compared to its other counterpart. Agreeably, the group is the largest operator in South Africa with 34.1 million subscribers.
Nevertheless, Vodacom has seen a steady decline in ARPU since 2011, when it was sitting at R157. This, too, is down significantly from the highs of R183 per subscriber in 2003.
MTN on the other hand which is the second largest communication operator in the country is still struggling with its ARPU especially as its revenue from its 29.1 million subscribers has continued to dwindle since 2010 when it had R154
Telcom which started reporting its revenue in 2012, has reported that their revenue is on the increase against that of the Vodacom and MTN. Telcom revealed that it had seen a consistent every year up to the end of 2015 with its 2.3 million mobile subscribers
Telkom started reporting its mobile revenues from 2012, and has seen consistent increases in ARPU every year since. Late 2015, the group reported having just short of 2.3 million mobile subscribers.
In November 2015, the group reported to have ARPU of R89, bringing it in sight of bigger competitors such as Vodacom and MTN.
Meanwhile, companies like Cell C which has been at the forefront of OTT advocacy, promoting the use of WhatsApp and the like, embracing the OTT generation are yet to relate to the public their revenue but with its 22 million subscriber, we believe its revenue ought to be in competition with the first two biggest operators in the country.