SA cellular industry still growing strongly - TechCentral

SA cellular industry still growing strongly

Arthur Goldstuck

SA’s cellular market continues to enjoy robust growth, even with market penetration at around 100%, a new survey has found. The preliminary findings of the 2009 annual Mobility study were released on Tuesday.

The study, which was carried out by World Wide Worx, showed it was not only the number of cellular connections that was growing, but also the applications for which subscribers were using their phones.

The research also illustrated that the average number of Sim connections, or active cellphone accounts, per cellphone user in SA began to grow steadily after prepaid accounts were introduced in 1996.

It grew from an average of one Sim card per phone user in 1997 to 1,2 per user in 2003 and to 1,47 per user at the end of 2008.

The study found that the gap between users and connections was expected to continue to grow as both consumers and businesses found more innovative approaches to cellphone usage.

“This gives the impression that every South African has a cellphone, but that is obviously not possible,” World Wide Worx MD
Arthur Goldstuck (pictured) said. “It’s become clear that many pre-paid users have a SIM card for each major network, to avoid incurring the interconnection fee charged for calls between networks,” Goldstuck said.

The low cost of new Sim cards — as little as 50c for a starter pack — gave anyone the ability to have more than one number, he said.

The 2009 annual Mobility study was expected to reveal consumers and business users were using their cellphones more innovatively. “Cellphone functionality has progressively grown beyond the traditional voice and SMS with the growing trend towards cellphone banking, mobile media, mobile marketing and mobile Internet access,” said Len Pienaar, CEO of FNB Mobile and Transact Solutions. FNB and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion funded the survey.

Preliminary research for Mobility 2009 was based on analysis of  government and institutional data, as well as personal interviews with key people involved in the cellular sector, including network operators and wireless application service providers.  — Sapa

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