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South Africa - Mobile Infrastructure, Operators and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses


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South Africa's vibrant mobile market has seen rapid growth since competition was introduced to the sector in the 1990s. SIM card penetration by mid-2015 was above 150%, driven by the popularity of multiple card use, often for business and personal use but also for having separate subscriptions for voice and mobile broadband services. This trend followed in the wake of the launch of third generation (3G) and LTE services.

Mobile broadband rivals DSL fixed-line offerings in terms of both speed and price, and as a consequence it has outpaced DSL in terms of subscriber numbers.

While the major mobile operators have become the country's leading broadband providers, they have also branched out into providing fixed services, fibre backbone networks, international fibre connectivity, mobile banking and mobile entertainment in a rapidly converging environment. The fixed-line incumbent Telkom has reacted to these market dynamics by launching its own mobile network.

The network operators are increasingly forced to find innovative ways of distinguishing themselves from competitors in order to acquire and retain customers, and to streamline their operations. There has been speculation about mergers and acquisitions among the smaller players, and major infrastructure sharing deals have been concluded. Several Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) have entered the market, adding to the competitive mix.

Key developments:

MTN reaches 200Mb/s data rates with LTE-Unlicensed trials; Vodacom ends M-Pesa service in South Africa; Cell C launches commercial LTE-A services; Vodacom calls off planned takeover of Neotel; Nashua Mobile winds down, sells subscriber base to Vodacom and MTN; Vodacom launches VoLTE services; Afrihost launches fixed-wireless LTE services; Oger Telecom considers sale of 75% interest in Cell C; Smart Mobile preps for launch as an MVNO; new MTRs set to September 2017, challenged by C Cell; SMS platform facing stiffening competition from WhatsApp and other OTT services; Telkom launches LTE-A services; consolidation among smaller operators; major network infrastructure outsourcing deals; five LTE networks launched, more to follow; legal battles around MTRs; Vodacom announces plans to buy Neotel for ZAR7 billion; report includes telcos' operational and financial data to Q4 2015, recent market developments.

Companies mentioned in this report:

Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, Telkom SA (Heita, 8ta), Virgin Mobile.


1. Synopsis
2. Overview of South Africa's mobile market
2.1 Mobile statistics
2.1.1 General statistics
2.1.2 Mobile data
2.1.3 Mobile broadband
2.1.4 Forecasts
3. Regulatory issues
3.1 Spectrum
3.1.1 2GH
3.1.2 800MHz
3.2 Prices
3.3 Mobile Termination Rates (MTRs)
3.4 Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
3.5 International gateways
3.6 Fees and obligations for 1800MHz spectrum
3.7 SIM card registration
3.8 Quality of service (QoS)
3.9 Market liberalisation and licence obligations
3.10 Community service telephones (CST)
3.11 Fixed-mobile convergence (FMC)
3.12 Infrastructure sharing
3.13 Roaming
4. Mobile infrastructure
4.1 Digital networks
4.1.1 GSM
4.1.2 3G and 4G mobile broadband
4.1.3 3G/UMTS
4.1.4 Long-term Evolution (LTE)
4.2 Other infrastructure developments
4.2.1 WAP
4.2.2 GPRS
4.2.3 EDGE
4.2.4 High Sped Packet Access (HSPA)
4.2.5 Voice-over-LTE (VoLTE)
4.2.6 WiFi
4.2.7 M2M networks
4.2.8 Broadband via satellite
5. Major mobile operators
5.1 Vodacom South Africa
5.1.1 Vodacom and wireless broadband
5.1.2 Vodacom and fibre broadband
5.2 MTN South Africa
5.2.1 MTN Zone
5.3 Cell C
5.4 Telkom Mobile (8ta)
5.5 Mobile Virtual Network Enablers (MVNEs)
5.6 Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO)
6. Mobile content and applications
6.1 Push-to-Talk (PTT)
6.2 Mobile TV
6.3 Mobile music
6.4 CellBook
6.5 M-commerce
6.6 M-gaming
6.7 Mobile advertising
6.8 Location-based services (LBS)
6.9 Manobi
6.10 Mobile social media
7. Mobile handsets
7.1 Handset subsidies
8. Related reports
Table 1 Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in South Africa 1999 - 2004
Table 2 Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in South Africa 2005 - 2016
Table 3 Vodacom SMS traffic 2012 - 2014
Table 4 Active mobile broadband subscribers 2010 - 2014
Table 5 Forecast mobile subscribers in South Africa 2015; 2018
Table 6 Forecast mobile broadband users in South Africa 2015; 2018
Table 7 Vodacom South Africa broadband subscribers 2006 - 2012
Table 8 Vodacom South Africa M2M connections 2011 - 2015
Table 9 Vodacom South Africa mobile revenue 2010 - 2016
Table 10 Vodacom South Africa subscribers and market share 2002 - 2015
Table 11 Vodacom South Africa mobile data subscribers 2013 - 2015
Table 12 Vodacom South Africa key statistics 2014 - 2015
Table 13 MTN South Africa subscribers and market share 2002 - 2016
Table 14 MTN South Africa financial data 2012 - 2015
Table 15 MTN South Africa key statistics quarter ended March 2016
Table 16 Cell C mobile subscribers 2013 - 2015
Table 17 Telkom mobile subscribers 2009 - 2015
Table 18 Telkom Mobile financial data 2014 - 2015
Table 19 Telkom Mobile financial data 2014 - 2015
Table 20 Vodacom South mobile data use 2012 2014
Table 21 Vodacom South Africa smartphone vs. dongle users 2009 2014
Table 22 Vodacom South Africa active data devices by type 2012 2014
Chart 1 Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in South Africa 2005 - 2016
Chart 2 Vodacom South Africa mobile revenue 2010 2016
Exhibit 1 Spotlight on Vodacom GSM community payphones

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