Voice calls are 'dying' in SA, report shows

2013-11-27 10:01
(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - A report on the state of the mobile ecosystem in South Africa has found that voice is in decline, especially among younger demographics.

According to the Mobility 2014 research study, conducted by World Wide Worx with the backing of First National Bank, people in the 19 - 24 age group are abandoning spending on voice calls in favour of data.

The results show that voice declined to 56% of the group's cellphone expense, down around 10% from 2012, while spending on data increased from 17% to 24%.

But it's not only young people: Spending on voice calls declined to 65% as a share of mobile expense across all demographics, down from 77% in 2010.

Data spend, on the other hand increased from 12% to 16%.


"Older users continue to spend far more overall, but the powerful shift in spend from voice to data will work its way up the age segments in the coming years," said Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx.

Mobile operators have noticed the shift and there have been a variety of data offers to encourage consumers to utilise the service.

"Group data revenue increased 29%, even as we actively reduced data prices. In South Africa as an example, the average price per megabyte came down 16%," Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub told News24.

But spectrum to continue accelerating the expansion of wireless broadband has proved challenging.

Operators have been frustrated the by the fumbling at allocating spectrum, particularly in the 800MHz band.

"The big thing for us is that data traffic in South Africa is growing by 70% year-on-year so we need the additional capacity to be able to offload the 3G network and further improve the customer experience," Joosub said.

International organisation the GSM Association recently released its report on the state of the mobile economy and found that while SIM penetration in SA is at over 100%, the picture is more complex than the numbers suggest.

Feature phones

"We've gone behind the headline SIM penetration and looked at unique subscriber penetration. And we found that while SIM penetration on average across Sub-Saharan Africa is about 61%, people have multiple SIM cards - it's 31% on a unique subscriber basis," said Peter Lyons, director of Public Policy Africa Middle East at the GSMA.

The Mobility study found that Nokia dominates the South African market though its share is declining, from 50% to 44%. BlackBerry has increased its market share from 18% to 23%, and Samsung has a 19% share.

The GSMA Sub-Saharan Africa Mobile Economy 2013 report also confirmed South Africa's status as dominated by feature phones.

"The region is also heavily dominated by lower cost mobile technologies, with over 86% of connections in the region at the end of 2013 expected to be 2G," the report says.

The organisation expects 4G networks to only command 2% of the market by 2017. This compares poorly to Asian countries like Japan where 2G was completely eliminated in 2011 and 4G has grown to 25% this year.

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Read more on:    world wide worx  |  gsma  |  mobile  |  broadband

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