MTN SA is losing customers, with the operator’s subscriber base down by more than 800 000 in the quarter ended 30 September. The company has laid the blame squarely at the door of new legislation meant to deal with crime.
“SA’s subscriber base has declined from 17,2m to 16,4m… The main reason for the movement is the significantly lower number of gross connections following the implementation of Rica,” MTN Group says in a statement outlining its subscriber numbers for the quarter.
Rica, or the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act, requires cellular service providers to register details of their customers, including their IDs and proof of residence.
“Given the current market uncertainty following the Rica implementation, there are challenges with SA achieving its revised target of zero net additions for the full year,” the group says.
It defines a subscriber as a customer who has participated in a revenue-generating activity in the past 90 days.
MTN SA’s blended (contract and prepaid) average revenue per user (Arpu) increased by 1% to R138. It says this was mainly as a result of the loss of low-Arpu subscribers.
At the end of September, MTN Group had 108,5m subscribers, representing a 5% increase from the 103,2m at the end of June.
The group has increased its worldwide subscriber base by 19,6% since the beginning of the year.
The South and East Africa region performed poorly because of SA’s large contribution. The region’s subscriber numbers are up only 0,5% quarter on quarter, helped by good performance in Uganda.
MTN’s most important market, Nigeria, reported a 5% increase in subscribers. At the end of September, MTN had 28,8m subscribers. Ghana (4,2m customers) and the Ivory Coast (also 4,2m) showed similar improvements to Nigeria.
In the Middle East, there has been continued strong growth for MTN in Iran. It’s 49%-held operation in the Islamic republic increased its subscriber base by 8% quarter-on-quarter to 20,7.
Syria increased its subscriber base by 13% to 4m, beating expectations. — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral