Mobile subscriber numbers in South Africa – Vodacom vs MTN

Vodacom recently published its trading update for the quarter ended 31 December 2019.

The mobile operator showed strong subscriber and revenue growth in South Africa, adding 484,000 customers over the period.

“Our data pricing transformation strategy of giving more value to customers is delivering results, with data customers increasing 12.5% to 22.9 million and overall data usage increasing by 63.2%,” Vodacom said.

“Data bundles sold increased 20.0% to 251 million, raising our unique bundle data users to 14 million, an increase of 17.8%”

The company said its ongoing price transformation strategy has seen it cut out-of-bundle tariffs and decrease bundle prices, resulting in a 50% decline in data prices since March 2016.

This growth follows a brief period of stagnation for South Africa’s biggest mobile operators where they measured small declines in subscriber numbers.

Local competition

While Vodacom is still the largest mobile operator in South Africa by a wide margin, with MTN following in second place, Telkom is seeing the best growth at the moment.

Telkom’s mobile subscribers have increased by a staggering 75.7% over the last year, with the operator now boasting 11.5 million customers.

Cell C is in an especially vulnerable position, as Telkom is now nearing its size in terms of mobile customers.

Excluding broadband, wholesale, MVNO, and business service provider customers, Cell C is left with a total of 13.6 million subscribers.

This places it within Telkom’s crosshairs, as it is only around 2 million subscribers ahead while being in a more precarious financial position.

We compared the real customer base of Telkom, MTN, Vodacom, and Cell C according to their latest published trading results.

Mobile subscribers

Vodacom’s trading update for the quarter ended 31 December 2019 showed that it now has a total of 44.3 million customers in South Africa, comprising 38.3 million prepaid and 6.0 million contract customers.

MTN’s quarterly trading update for the period ended 30 September 2019 reflected that it has a local mobile subscriber base of 28.9 million subscribers, which works out to 25.8 million customers after deducting the operator’s telemetry subscribers.

Cell C’s latest financial results reflect 16 million South African customers, which works out to 13.6 million after deducting MVNO, business, wholesale, and broadband subscribers.

Telkom’s interim results for the period ended 30 September 2019 showed that it had a total of 11.5 million mobile subscribers.

Network Prepaid Postpaid Total
Vodacom 38.3 million 6.0 million 44.3 million
MTN 23.0 million 2.8 million 25.8 million
Cell C 12.5 million 1.1 million 13.6 million
Telkom 9.4 million 2.1 million 11.5 million