SA’s fourth mobile network operator, 8ta, had 473 604 active subscribers on its books at the end of March 2011, its parent Telkom has disclosed.
Of those, the vast majority — 440 775 — are prepaid subscribers. The company had 32 829 contract 8ta subscribers by 31 March. An active subscriber is defined as one that generated revenue for Telkom in the previous 90-day period.
Since its launch in August 2010, 8ta had signed up 1,2m subscribers — defined as customers who had been through the process of registering their Sim cards, suggesting a high rate of churn to other operators.
In the financial year to March, 8ta achieved revenue of R81m and recording an operating loss of R1,1bn. As a result of a delays in building its network, Telkom says it will reach breakeven at an operating profit level in the financial year to 31 March 2014, later than originally communicated.
Telkom launched 8ta after disposing of its 50% stake in the country’s largest mobile operator, Vodacom. It sold 15% of its stake to the UK’s Vodafone and unbundled the rest of the Vodacom stake to its shareholders.
At the end of March, Telkom says it had installed 8ta branding at 20 of its Telkom Direct stores and created six new, standalone 8ta stores. It had 51 800 airtime points of sale, 22 300 Sim card points of sales and 398 contract points of sale.
Nearly 1 000 base stations had been constructed. “As previously announced, we are working through an order to build a further 2 000 base stations,” Telkom says.
Telkom CEO Nombulelo Moholi concedes 8ta’s launch has “not been easy”. “The growth of our network and distribution channels has encountered delays,” she says in notes accompanying the group’s 2011 financial results. “It is coming together, though, and we look forward to turning our network on and launching services into the enterprise market during the coming year.”
For now, Telkom continues relied heavily on a roaming agreement with rival MTN.
Telkom says that following the launch of 8ta, its focus will be on “offering full converged products that marry mobile voice and data services with the quality and resilience of fixed-line services to both the enterprise and residential markets”. — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral