An article published today by the Source has qouted TelOne’s managing director, Chipo Mtasa, highlighting an anticipated growth revenue of 4% in 2015 for the fixed telecoms operator.
Mtasa referenced the plans TelOne has which are focused on network expansion while improving client services systems and expanding broadband connectivity. There was also mention of expanding fibre access to the home and a TelOne Data Centre that could see it dabbling in things like software development and test platforms as well as hosting services.
For a parastatal that is competing in an aggressive market expectations are obviously high after such plans have been spelled out. However the narrative really isn’t so much about whether or not TelOne is going to deliver on these projects.
This operator is state-owned and that throws in a lot of issues around government interference, approval of capital expenditure (something also highlighted by Mtasa) and the securing of debt capital from its financially hamstrung shareholder. These are some of the challenges that trip over it’s state owned telecoms sibling NetOne.
What is remarkable though is TelOne’s focus on being largely an internet services company with voice services tucked at the back of any plans for revenue growth. This is huge step away from what has been TelOne’s core identity since it was still called PTC.
Voice revenue was a primary service for TelOne and when mobile telephony came onto the scene it became the cash cow for mobile telecoms as well. TelOne fell behind in that race and it has had to contend with the fact that we do not feel the strong desire to have a landline over a mobile connection.
The current wave has seen voice services losing their lustre and being replaced by data and all the opportunities that broadband offers, albeit somewhat slowly on the local scene though. The mobile operators are trying to figure this out daily and TelOne, now buoyed by its ADSL monopoly is laying claim to its own space in the data era.
So far the plan has worked. A strong push towards an ADSL-first product suite saw an increase in subscriber numbers of up to 7% every quarter (hard to confirm but we have to take POTRAZ’s word on these numbers). Last year broadband services contributed 14 % towards TelOne revenue.
There has been tinkering with the ADSL and internet services like VSAT more than voice thanks to promotions, price reductions and related products like ADSL recharge cards. A lot is being put into broadband which is ultimately what TelOne wants to and should be focusing on.
A point of difference appears to have been reached with a competitively priced and somewhat reliable service against other pricey Wimax service options and although TelOne is an outright dinosaur in the voice arena it has some relevance in the age of broadband.
Effectively the grand plans outlined by the TelOne MD which also include other lines like web and email hosting all point to an enterprise embracing data and making 2015 a broadband year.