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NetOne adds 200,000 subscribers in a week, targets 3 million by year end

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NetOne might be able to shake the “Zimbabwe’s smallest mobile network operator” tag in the coming months. Information provided by the NetOne MD, Reward Kangai to the Sunday Mail suggests the company has been signing on subscribers by the hundreds of thousands a week.

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“We are growing and we are really excited about it,” he’s reported to have said, “During the last week, we added more than 200,000 subscribers due to the promotion launched recently.” The company has two major promotions running; a dollar a day for all on-net calls promo, and a “dash for cash” lotto like promo that we’ll write about later.

The last mobile operator subscriber statistics released by POTRAZ in May had NetOne as the smallest mobile operator (of the 3 major operators in the country) with just 1.6 million active subscribers. Telecel and Econet had 1.5 million (they contested that) and 6.4 million active subscribers respectively.

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In the interview with the Sunday Mail, Kangai says the company now has 1.9 million subscribers:

We have over 1.7 million active subscribers and the promotion I talked about has generated over 200,000 more and this figure is still growing…. We are aiming towards reaching a 3 million subscriber base by end of this year and, given what has happened so far, and the plans we have in terms of expanding the network, we are very confident of reaching this goal.

He also hinted that the sudden surge in subscribers may be causing network congestion issues: “We are in the process of addressing network congestion”.

At first glance it seems either the “more than 200,000 a week” figure is a overstated or the projected subscriber growth to year end is seriously underestimated. Assuming that NetOne has 1.9 million active subscribers currently, and assuming the magic promo keeps delivering the numbers, if  we extrapolate the 200,000 subscribers over the coming weeks, NetOne will reach the 3 million mark by mid September.

But maybe the company is factoring in a possible response to the promos by their competition in a bid to curb the NetOne driven high subscriber churn rate. Return blows are being delivered already.

Or maybe NetOne plans to expire the magic promo. Unlikely, but who knows?

Or it could just be that they’ll stop signing on new subscribers as the network congests.

We wrote to the NetOne spokesperson Rutendo Chaburuka yesterday but he hasn’t responded yet with any clarification.


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8 thoughts on “NetOne adds 200,000 subscribers in a week, targets 3 million by year end

  1. It’s hard to comment on the 200,000 figure without independent verification. But assuming it’s true it’s a great acheivement. Having said that one needs to look at the reason why Netone hit that figure. Presumably these are subscribers lured by the ‘dollar a day’ proposition of unlimted calls to other Netone numbers. If that’s the case then the quality of that 200,000 may be very low indeed. The network congestion Kangai refers to may to some extent also be a result of the ‘dollar a day’ promo. From Kangai’s submissions to the parliamentary comm where he revealed that they made a $15million (circa) loss a point he touches upon in the Sunday Mail article, I get the felling that Netone is digging a bigger financial hole for itself. I can’t see how they are making money out of this promotion. They seem to be chasing raw subscriber numbers possibly with the hope of improving the ARPU from that increased subscriber base but at best that’s a risky strategy.

    1. Ha!

      They
      seem to be chasing raw subscriber numbers possibly with the hope of
      improving the ARPU from that increased subscriber base but at best
      that’s a risky strategy.

      I would say they are chasing “statistics” so they can go about beating their chest saying they have 3 million subscribers.

      Honestly, i dont see how someone who has the time to call friends for 5 hours non-stop, and is enticed by free hours-on-end calls, can be turned into a loyal customer with a reasonable customer lifetime value.

      Right now, if Air Zimbabwe was to offer free flights between Harare and Bulawayo, its planes would be jam-packed, with some passengers seated two-passengers-on-one seat (as reported in the media a few days ago about Air Zim overloading).

      But the moment Air Zimbabwe says it’s going back to normal prices, people who are its real customers, those who can pay, will be the only ones left, and they are very few. The vast majority who cannot afford a plane ticket will go back to using the chicken bus.

      Just because someone would have flown with Air Zim and tasted its seats does not mean he will ever fly with it again. In a country with tight incomes like Zimbabwe and everyone is trying to save money, Netone would have millions of users only if it continues to be free for all for life.

      I would love to see what happens, especially to Netone, if Econet runs a similar promotion, soon after Netone has run this promotion (ha ha).

    2. Ha!

      They
      seem to be chasing raw subscriber numbers possibly with the hope of
      improving the ARPU from that increased subscriber base but at best
      that’s a risky strategy..

      I would say they are chasing “statistics” so they can go about beating their chest saying they have 3 million subscribers.

      Honestly, i dont see how someone who has the time to call friends for
      5 hours non-stop, and is enticed by free hours-on-end calls, can be
      turned into a loyal customer with a reasonable customer lifetime value.

      Right now, if Air Zimbabwe was to offer free flights between Harare
      and Bulawayo, its planes would be jam-packed, with some passengers
      seated two-passengers-on-one seat (as reported in the media a few days
      ago about Air Zim overloading).

      But the moment Air Zimbabwe says it’s going back to normal prices,
      people who are its real customers, those who can pay, will be the only
      ones left, and they are very few. The vast majority who cannot afford a
      plane ticket will go back to using the chicken bus.

      Just because someone would have flown with Air Zim and tasted its
      seats does not mean he will ever fly with it again. In a country with
      tight incomes like Zimbabwe and everyone is trying to save money, Netone
      would have millions of users only if it continues to be free for all
      for life.

      I would love to see what happens, especially to Netone, if Econet
      runs a similar promotion, soon after Netone has run this promotion (ha
      ha).

  2. He also hinted that the sudden surge in subscribers may be causing
    network congestion issues: “We are in the process of addressing network
    congestion”.

    This Kangai, MD Netone, is an interesting fellow.

    You know, right now, when they are offering free calls, is the time for them to demonstrate their quality of service and a rich customer experience.

    Now, if the system is now getting congested and calls are getting dropped, what does Netone think the 200 000 people it claims it has added will think?

    If all calls go through and there are no network issues, people will always remember that customer experience long after the promotion has ended and they have even left Netone.

    The moment Econet or Telecel has problems, those people will quickly remember Netone and even go and buy Netone airtime. But not when right now those free calls that are promised end up being dropped because of network congestion. People will remember that.

  3. Our esteemed Reward Kangai is living in cloud cocoland. Netone adding 200,000 customers? my foot, what is he smoking these days? Those numbers are simply not there in this market. Econet and Telecel have pretty-much established strong customer loyalties with their better products and professional branding. Netone has none of these. And there is simply no way customers from the 2 leading networks are going to jump ship to Netone. That’s an aberration, and that won’t happen. Netone will only reach 200,000 if they force civil servants onto Netone plans. But in a supply-demand market, not a chance!

  4. Without independent audit of that figure, anyone can tell us what they want. However, Netone 3g on my smartphone is more superior to Econet, its quicker, no outage, quicker response time & much more consistent…their apn is easy (internet). Econet internet (on 3g mobile at least)now kinda sucks. $ a day is drawing thousands…at least until the promo stops. With sim cards at $1 for 2, & registration easier than econet…im not surprised….Viva Competition…whp ever saw this day coming…l remember the days of buying a sim card fo R1000. People would sell their TVs, Radio etc to buy a sim card. Someone sold a car to but 10 sim cards for resale!

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