Vodacom sees explosion in data usage during lockdown

Business Insider SA
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  • Vodacom has seen a 85% increase in data usage in the six months to end-September, as South Africans are forced to work and learn from home.
  • The number of its customers who use smartphones grew by almost 10% to 22.2 million.
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Network operator Vodacom added 3.4 million new users to its network of customers in South Africa during June to September as demand for connectivity soared while people moved work and school to their homes during the lockdown.  

The company, which cut data prices by 40% on April 1 this year, said data usage for the company surged 85% which was in line with more consumers adapting to working, learning, and entertaining themselves at home.    

Customers who use data grew 4.1% to 22.3 million while those who use smartphones increased by 9.5% to 22.2 million, the company said. The number of devices operating on 4G on its network rose 28.8% to 14.2 million.

The average usage per smart device increased 64% to 2.2GB per month in the period.

In order to cope with the increases in data traffic and the shifts in customer behaviour patterns, Vodacom sped up its network infrastructure spend in the period to R6.6 billion, R5.0 billion of which was utilised in South Africa and helped keep families, businesses, learners connected, CEO of Vodacom Shameel Joosub said.

The telecoms industry in South Africa is one of the only sectors to have benefitted from the Covid-19 pandemic as people migrated to online services for their everyday needs. This helped push the company’s South African service revenue up by 7% .

Thanks to its Vodacom Business customers, the company managed to grow the number of users on contract, despite operating in a tough economic environment. Customers grew by 2.0% to 6.1 million which saw customer service revenue for that division increase 3.9%.

Peter Takaendesa, analyst at Mergence Investment Manager says Vodacom’s growth in users in SA, buoyed by an uptick in demand for connectivity across the telecoms sector, is “encouraging” but will slow slightly as the growth rate normalises. 

In afternoon trade, Vodacom’s share price was trading 2.11% lower at R125,19c.

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