Potraz Q3 report is out and not a lot really happened. A total of nine 2G base stations were decommissioned and 139 3G base stations were added. 4G base station count increased by 120 whilst the number of 5G base stations remained the same.
NetOne has been quite busy beefing up its 4G infrastructure which grew its market share of LTE base stations from 39.9% in Q2 to 44.5% in Q3. Telecel also saw an increase in its 2G base station market share from 13.3% to 13.4% however its internet and data market share has dropped to a dangerously low 0.2%. Almost no one is using Telecel for internet.
There was a 104% increase in revenue in Q3 compared to Q2. This is quite a substantial bump from the average 30 to 40% variation we are used to. The biggest contributor is the 61% increase in tariffs that Potraz approved within Q3. And they did this twice in a bid to get internet, voice, and data tariffs to catch up to the rate of inflation in the country.
At a total sector revenue of ZW$79.5 billion for Q3, the average spend of a mobile subscriber came at ZW$60.66 per day or US$0.09 at the interbank rate. The same figures using Q2’s revenue of ZW$38.9 billion look like this. ZW$30.86 per subscriber per day or US$0.08 using June 30th interbank rate.
So in USD terms, the buying habits of mobile subscribers have remained mostly unchanged regardless of the doubling in revenues and subscriber spending in local currency. Since telecom operator expenses are mostly in USD, their earnings are not doing much to drastically change their situation apart from keeping up with inflation. You can find out why the internet is expensive in Zimbabwe here.
The rate of fiber connections has dropped from 7.7% in Q2 to 0.9% in Q3. Fiber has very high setup costs and a long turnaround time for ISPs. New residential areas are emerging faster than they can lay their fiber meaning a good number of new suburbs are yet to be serviced.
To try and salvage the situation, ISPs are also offering fixed-wireless internet solutions alongside fiber in the form of VSAT and LTE which are seeing higher growth rates. VSAT subscribers grew by 30.2% in Q3 vs 20% in Q2 with LTE & 3G going from -3.6% in Q2 to 4.4% in Q3. A comparison of all VSAT service providers is here and one for all LTE service providers is here
TelOne and Dandemutande are the only ISPs that added more bandwidth to their existing ones. TelOne increased its bandwidth from 97.5Gbps to 107.5Gbps and Dandemutande from 5.6Gbps to 5.9Gbps. Liquid may have lost 1.6% of its market share in Q3 but it still boasts the largest bandwidth of 400Gbps which remains unchanged from Q2. You can find a comparison of all fiber and ADSL service providers here.