Mobile voice traffic decline continues

Voice traffic volumes for Zimbabwe’s mobile phone network operators declined for the fourth consecutive year, retreating 5,7 percent in 2017 as Over The Top services continue to impact negatively on voice business although total revenues continue to grow.

OTT refers to the audio, video and other media content delivered over the internet without the involvement of a multiple-system operator (MSO) in the control or distribution of that particular content. The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz), said in its 2017 annual report that the 4 400 994 583 minutes were recorded in 2017 from 4 666 909 037 recorded in 2016.

However, the 2017 annual report released by the telecoms regulatory authority showed that while traditional voice traffic has in recent years experienced a sustained decline, internet usage has been on the rise. The production of the annual report by Potraz falls in line with need to comply with dictates of the Public Entities and Corporate Governance Act, which was gazetted this year to promote good governance practices and transparency in State entities and ensure that the companies operate profitably.

“The trend of declining voice traffic is not peculiar to Zimbabwe, but is a global phenomenon. The substitution of traditional voice with over the top text and voice is attributed to the general decline in voice traffic.”

But Potraz said while voice traffic headed southward, mobile network internet and data usage increased by 89,9 percent to record 15,4 billion megabytes in 2017 from 8,1 billion megabytes recorded in the prior year. The regulator said incoming international bandwidth capacity also increased by 107 percent to 47,779 megabytes per second compared to 32645Mbps the country mobile operators recorded the previous year.

Although traditional voice traffic has been on the decline, total telecommunications revenue increased by 11,2 percent to $1,1 billion from $998 million, which the operators managed in the same period in 2016.

Despite growth in other markets, the fixed telecoms market registered a decline of 0,02 percent to record $116,571 million during the 12 months period to December 2017 from $116,594 million in the same period of 2016. Mobile network revenues rose 17,8 percent to $186,844 million last year from $158,566 million realized in 2016.

“The growth in telecommunications revenue is attributed to the upsurge in the consumption of data and internet in the country,” Potraz director general Gift Machengete said in the authority’s 2017 annual report.

The total number of active internet subscriptions increased by 3,7 percent to reach 6 971 617 in 2017 from 6 721 947 subscriptions that were recorded the prior year.