Market Research Logo

Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts - South Africa

South Africa - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts

Mergers and acquisitions in Africa’s leading telecoms market

South Africa’s telecom sector boasts the continent’s most advanced networks in terms of technology deployed and services provided. In a virtually saturated voice market, four mobile networks – Vodacom, MTN, Cell C and Telkom SA – are competing for market share in the next growth wave, mobile broadband. 3G/4G mobile services now rival DSL fixed-line offerings in terms of both speed and price and have consequently outpaced them in terms of subscriber growth. Five different LTE networks have been launched, although their introduction was initially back by delays with suitable frequency spectrum allocations.

Mobile SIM card penetration is well above 100% of the population, driven by separate subscriptions for voice and data services. There has been speculation about mergers and acquisitions (M&A) among the smaller players, and major infrastructure sharing deals have been concluded. Several Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO) are preparing to enter the market in 2014, although the few existing ones have so far failed to have a major impact.

South Africa’s Internet and Broadband market has taken off after years of stagnation due to an expensive operating environment created by Telkom SA’s dominance in the fixed-line and international bandwidth market. A new converged licensing regime has created hundreds of companies licensed to offer Internet services. There has been consolidation in the sector which is expected to continue. Wireless broadband services have carved out market share from existing ADSL offerings, but several WiMAX networks are now being shut down as consumers migrate to 3G and 4G mobile services.

While emerging as the country’s leading broadband providers, the major mobile operators are also branching out into fixed services, fibre backbone networks, international fibre connectivity, mobile banking and entertainment in a rapidly converging environment. With its fixed-line network reaching less than 10% of the population, Telkom has reacted by launching its own mobile network. Following years of delays with its licensing, second national operator (SNO) Neotel has been gaining market share in competition with the fixed-line incumbent. It is using wireless technologies such as CDMA-2000, WiMAX and LTE to provide alternatives to Telkom’s copper access network. Neotel is now in the process of being acquired by Vodacom, the country’s leading mobile network operator.

All of the major players are involved in various international submarine fibre optic cables that have reached the country in the past few years, despite regulatory hurdles. Following the end of Telkom’s monopoly in this area, this has brought down the cost of international bandwidth dramatically. Several additional terabit cables are scheduled to go live in 2014, connecting Africa directly to the Americas. In addition, the government has created Broadband InfraCo, a national infrastructure company to provide cheap backbone network capacity to service providers. Despite the significantly increased competition between different service providers, many municipalities in South Africa, including the country’s largest cities, are implementing their own metropolitan fibre and wireless broadband networks. Several Fibre to the Home (FttH) deployments are underway.

With its relatively well developed and diverse infrastructure, South Africa is also taking a regional lead role in the convergence of telecommunication and information technologies with the media and entertainment sector, promising reductions in telecommunication costs and better availability of information and services. Telecom carriers and ISPs are moving into delivering video and other entertainment content over their networks, while in turn the traditional electronic media carriers have discovered the potential of their infrastructure for telecommunications service delivery. Triple play offerings are available that combine voice, data and IPTV services. The migration to DTT is scheduled to be completed by 2014/15.

Digital media and social media have reached a level of development that is fostering an associated advertising and marketing industry. The FIFA World Cup held in the country four years ago has boosted these developments. While South Africa lags behind other countries on the continent in the development of e-government, e-health and e-learning applications, it is a regional leader in the areas of online retail, electronic banking, mobile banking, social media and cloud computing.

Market highlights:

Consolidation among smaller mobile operators;
Neotel takeover by Vodacom;
Five commercial LTE services launched, more to follow;
Several MVNOs are preparing to enter the market;
Legal battle around interconnection charges;
Telkom writes off legacy assets, invests billions into broadband infrastructure;
Many national and metropolitan fibre network rollouts, including FttH;
Cost of international fibre bandwidth has collapsed since monopoly ended;
New international fibre optic submarine cables planned for 2014;
Innovative wireless broadband services amidst spectrum allocation delays;
Google tests wireless broadband using White Space spectrum;
Switchover to Digital Terrestrial TV (DTT) in 2014/15;
Very competitive mobile banking sector;
Emerging cloud services.

Estimated market penetration rates in South Africas telecoms sector – end-2014
Market | Penetration rate
Mobile | 154%
Fixed | 7%
Internet | 53%
(Source: BuddeComm based on various sources)

Companies covered in this report:

Telkom SA (Heita, 8ta), Neotel, Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, Virgin Mobile, Broadband InfraCo, Transtel, Eskom, SITA, Sentech, Orbicom, Amobia, Dark Fibre Africa, Seacom, FibreCo, eFive, WASACE, Internet Solutions, Atlantic Internet Services, Business Connexion, Verizon Business, MWEB, Vox Telecom (DataPro), iBurst (WBS, Blue Label), MultiChoice, Goal Technology Solutions (GTS), SmartVillage, Vodacom Business, MTN Business (Verizon Business, UUNet), MWEB, Vox Telecom, Storm Telecom, South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), MXit, Naspers, Media24, Standard Bank, First National Bank, ABSA, Nedbank, Barclays Bank, Orange.

Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year


  • EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
  • KEY STATISTICS
    • Table Country statistics - 2014
    • Table Fixed-line network statistics - 2014
    • Table Internet provider statistics - 2014
    • Table Internet and broadband statistics - 2014
    • Table Mobile statistics - 2014
    • Table National telecommunications authorities
  • TELECOMMUNICATIONS MARKET
    • OVERVIEW
      • Fixed-line market
      • Mobile market
      • Broadband and Internet market
      • Digital economy, media and banking
  • REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT
    • HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
      • Network rollout obligations
    • REGULATORY AUTHORITY
      • Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA)
    • TELECOMMUNICATIONS AMENDMENT BILL
    • REGULATION OF INTERCEPTION OF COMMUNICATIONS ACT 2002
    • ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS ACT AND ICASA AMENDMENT BILL
    • CONVERGED LICENSING REGIME
    • NEW COMPANIES ACT
    • UNIVERSAL SERVICE AND ACCESS FUND (USAF)
    • INTERCONNECTION
    • REGISTRATION OF SUBSCRIBER DETAILS
    • TELECOM SECTOR LIBERALISATION IN SOUTH AFRICA
      • Overview
      • Privatisation of Telkom SA
        • Table Telkom SA shareholders of more than 2% - March 2013
      • Third mobile licence
      • Analysis of the SNO licensing process
      • Third fixed-line and fourth mobile licence
      • PTN licences
      • The `Big Bang'
      • Under-Serviced Area Licences (USALs)
      • InfraCo licences
      • Number Portability (NP)
      • Carrier pre-selection (CPS)
      • Local Loop Unbundling (LLU)
      • International gateways
      • International submarine cables
      • Least Cost Routing (LCR)
      • Broadcasting licences
      • Mobile TV licences
    • SPECTRUM LICENSING
      • WiFi
      • LTE, WiMAX (800MHz, 2.6 and 3.5GHz)
  • FIXED NETWORK MARKET
    • MARKET OVERVIEW
      • Fixed-line statistics
        • Table Fixed lines in service by operator and teledensity in South Africa - 1999 - 2014
    • FIXED NETWORK OPERATORS IN SOUTH AFRICA
      • Telkom SA Ltd
        • Table Telkom SA shareholders of more than 2% - March 2013
        • Table Telkom SA telephone tariffs - March 2013
        • Table Telkom SA prepaid fixed lines - 2002 - 2013
        • Table Telkom SA's fixed line data revenue and annual change - 2002 - 2013
        • Table Telkom SA ISDN channels - 2000 - 2013
      • Neotel
  • TELECOMMUNICATIONS INFRASTRUCTURE
    • NATIONAL FIBRE INFRASTRUCTURE
      • Telkom and Neotel
      • Broadband InfraCo
      • Dark Fibre Africa
      • Mobile operators
      • FibreCo
      • Fibre to the Home (FttH)
    • NATIONAL PRIVATE NETWORKS
      • Overview
      • Transtel
      • Eskom
      • Other electricity utilities
      • State IT Agency (SITA)
    • SENTECH
    • MUNICIPAL NETWORKS
      • Knysna - Africa's first municipal network
      • City of Tshwane
      • City of Johannesburg
      • Ekurhuleni (East Rand)
      • City of Cape Town
      • eThekwini (Durban)
      • Gauteng Link
    • INTERNATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE
      • Submarine fibre
      • South African Power Pool
      • Satellite
  • INTERNET MARKET
    • OVERVIEW
      • Internet statistics
        • Table Internet users and penetration rate in South Africa - 1999 - 2014
    • INTERNET DEMOGRAPHICS
    • COMMUNITY ACCESS PROJECTS
      • Microsoft Digital Villages and telecentres
      • The Smart Cape Access Project
      • Intel's `World Ahead' initiative
    • SOUTH AFRICA'S ISP MARKET
      • Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA)
        • Table Large ISPA members - March 2013
      • Selected major ISPs
  • BROADBAND MARKET
    • OVERVIEW
      • Broadband statistics
        • Table Broadband subscribers in South Africa - 2004 - 2014
      • International internet bandwidth
    • ADSL
      • Table Telkom South Africa ADSL subscribers - 2003 - 2013
      • Major retailers
      • Tariffs
        • Table Telkom South Africa residential ADSL tariffs - 2013
      • Wholesale
      • ADSL2+
      • VDSL
    • WIRELESS BROADBAND
      • WiFi
      • WiMAX
        • Table Telkom South Africa WiMAX subscribers - 2008 - 2013
        • Table Neotel South Africa WiMAX tariffs - 2013
      • EV-DO
      • Wireless Access Providers Association (WAPA)
        • Table WAPA South Africa industry survey - 2006 - 2008
      • MyWireless (Sentech) - decommissioned
        • Table Sentech MyWireless subscribers in South Africa - 2005 - 2008
      • iBurst (WBS, Blue Label)
        • Table iBurst subscribers in South Africa - 2005 - 2012
      • White Space spectrum
    • 3G AND 4G MOBILE BROADBAND
    • BROADBAND VIA SATELLITE
    • BROADBAND OVER POWERLINES (BPL)
    • VOIP TELEPHONY
      • Market overview
      • VoIP interconnection and peering
      • Major VoIP providers
      • Mobile VoIP
      • Call centres
    • NEXT GENERATION NETWORKS (NGN)
      • Telkom SA
      • Neotel
      • Transtel
      • Eskom
      • SITA
    • IPTV, TRIPLE PLAY
  • DIGITAL MEDIA/ DIGITAL ECONOMY
    • BROADCASTING LICENCES
    • BROADCAST SIGNAL DISTRIBUTORS
      • Background
      • Sentech
      • Orbicom
    • DIGITAL MEDIA
      • Digital TV
      • Video-on-Demand (VoD)
      • Personal video recorders (PVR)
      • Interactive TV (iTV)
      • Online radio
      • Online retail
      • Online advertising
        • Table Online advertising revenue and annual change in South Africa - 2003; 2006 - 2011
      • Online media
        • Table South African unique monthly users of Top 10 websites - 2013 vs 2012
      • Social media
      • E-books, Mobizines
      • User Generated Content (UGC)
      • Blogs
      • Search engines
    • DIGITAL ECONOMY
      • E-learning
      • E-government
      • E-health
      • Electronic banking
      • Mobile banking (m-banking)
      • Online gambling
      • Cloud services
  • MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS
    • OVERVIEW OF SOUTH AFRICA'S MOBILE MARKET
      • Mobile statistics
        • Table Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in South Africa - 1999 - 2014
        • Table Mobile subscribers in South Africa by operator - June 2013
      • Market liberalisation and licence obligations
      • Community service telephones (CST)
      • Fixed-mobile convergence (FMC)
      • Infrastructure sharing
    • REGULATORY ISSUES
      • Prices
      • Interconnection
      • Handset subsidies
      • International gateways
      • Fees and obligations for 1800MHz spectrum
      • SIM card registration
      • Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
      • Quality of service (QoS)
    • MOBILE HANDSETS
    • MAJOR MOBILE OPERATORS
      • Vodacom South Africa
        • Table Vodacom South Africa subscribers and market share - 2002 - 2013
        • Table Vodacom South Africa key statistics - six months ended September 2013
      • MTN South Africa
        • Table MTN South Africa subscribers and market share - 2002 - 2013
        • Table MTN South Africa key statistics - year ended December 2013
      • Cell C
      • Telkom Mobile (8ta)
      • Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO)
    • MOBILE DATA SERVICES
      • Overview
      • Mobile data revenue
      • SMS
      • MMS
      • WAP
      • GPRS
      • EDGE
      • BlackBerry
    • MOBILE BROADBAND
      • Overview
      • 3G and 3.5G (HSPA)
        • Table Vodacom South Africa broadband subscribers - 2006 - 2012
        • Table Telkom SA mobile subscribers - 2009 - 2013
      • LTE (4G)
      • Smartphones
    • MOBILE CONTENT AND APPLICATIONS
      • Push-to-Talk (PTT)
      • Mobile TV
      • Mobile music
      • CellBook
      • M-commerce
      • Mobile advertising
      • Location-based services (LBS)
      • Manobi
      • Mobile social media
  • FORECASTS
    • FORECAST - INTERNET USERS - 2015, 2018
      • Table Forecast Internet users in South Africa - 2015; 2018
    • FORECAST - BROADBAND SUBSCRIBERS - 2015, 2018
      • Table Forecast broadband subscribers in South Africa - 2015; 2018
    • FORECAST - MOBILE SUBSCRIBERS - 2015, 2018
      • Table Forecast mobile subscribers in South Africa - 2015; 2018
    • FORECAST - MOBILE BROADBAND USERS - 2015, 2018
      • Table Forecast mobile broadband users in South Africa - 2015; 2018

Download our eBook: How to Succeed Using Market Research

Learn how to effectively navigate the market research process to help guide your organization on the journey to success.

Download eBook

Share this report