Table of Contents
South Africa's mature mobile market has seen rapid growth since competition was introduced to the sector in the 1990s. SIM card penetration by late 2016 was approaching 160%, driven partly by the popularity of multiple card use as also by the popular take-up of mobile broadband services. Mobile internet now accounts for more than 97% of all internet connections, and with almost two thirds of the population able to access LTE services this sector will continue to see strong growth into 2017.
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.
Regulator forced to push back LTE spectrum auction to May 2017; PIC cancels plan to sell a stake in Vodacom; Vodacom and MTN trial LTE-Unlicensed services; Wireless Business Solutions planning national LTE-A network rollout; Telkom to re-farm some of its 1.8GHz allocation for LTE services; 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; revised MTRs set to September 2017; SMS platform facing stiffening competition from WhatsApp and other OTT services; report update includes the regulator's 2015 market report, telcos' operational and financial data to Q2 2016, recent market developments.
Companies mentioned in this report:
Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, Telkom (Heita, 8ta), Virgin Mobile.
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