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Voice calls less a priority as consumer preferences shift



A NEW report by the country’s telecoms regulator has shown that most Zimbabweans have migrated to communicating on internet-based platforms as mobile network operators raise alarm over rising operating costs.


According to the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz), mobile voice traffic grew by 0.2% to record 2.53 billion minutes from 2.52 billion minutes recorded in the first quarter of 2023.

“The growth, however marginal, is attributed to a 6.1% growth in mobile to other mobile traffic. Net-on-net and mobile-to-fixed traffic has been on a downward trend over the past quarters. This may be attributed to substitution of voice with data for communications across the globe. Substitution of traditional voice with Over-the-Top VoIP also plays a significant factor,” the Potraz report reads.

Mobile internet and data traffic, according to Potraz, increased by 11.6% to record 42 058.3 terabytes in the second quarter, from 37 690.4 terabytes recorded in the first quarter of 2023.

The report shows that only Econet recorded growth in mobile internet and data traffic in the quarter under review.

 “Conversely, NetOne and Telecel recorded declines in traffic by margins of 4.7% and 56.5 % respectively. However, total internet and data traffic for mobile network operators increased by a significant margin, owing to growth in traffic by Econet,” the report shows.

Econet’s market share of internet and data traffic grew by 2.8%, whereas NetOne and Telecel lost internet and data traffic shares by 4.7% and 0.1% respectively.

“Operating costs continued to spike owing to depreciation of the local currency in the second quarter of 2023. This has reduced operator profits and has had detrimental effects on the viability of the sector,” the report reads.

 The report further shows that a total of 363 new base stations were deployed in the second quarter of 2023, as compared to 86 base stations deployed in the first quarter.

“As the world moves towards faster technologies, the sector has been moving away from deployment of 2G and 3G technologies in favour of LTE which offers high capacity, and faster download and upload speeds. This is evidenced by 243 LTE deployments made in the quarter under review by mobile network operators,” the report reads.

Currently, Econet is the only mobile network operator with 5G infrastructure, hence the 100% market share.

Telecel is lagging in the deployment of Next Generation Networks, with only 1% market share of LTE deployments.

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