The third Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) telecoms report of the year (Q3) was released yesterday. By the way, the Q3 report covers the period between 01 July 2017 and 30 September 2017.
Amidst all the statistics of interest to us, internet penetration, in this case mobile internet penetration is quite important to us. The level of panic that cut across the country on the 5th of December (the day of the internet blackout) said tonnes. Internet has become the backbone of most services throughout the world and to survive, I’m persuaded that we as Zimbabwe need to catch up.
Therefore, seeing an increase in the internet penetration is quite reassuring.
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The Potraz Telecoms Q3 report reveals that the active internet penetration rate increased by 0.9% to reach 49.5% from the 48.6% which was recorded in Q2. This is a good sign of recovery considering that in 2016, our internet penetration once went above 50%. In fact, it was at 50.1% for two consecutive quarters i.e. Q2 and Q3 in 2016. It then faced a decline thereafter; however, 2017 Q3 results bring hope that we are on the road to recovery.
Also, in the first quarter of this year, Mobile Internet data usage increased by 4.7% from the previous quarter (Q4 of 2016) from 2,5 Petabytes to 2,6 Petabytes (petabytes = 1 million gigabytes). In the second quarter, Mobile Internet data usage upped by more than 3 times the Q1 percentage to record a 15.8% increase which totaled the usage to 3,112,416GB.
Now, in Q3 Mobile Internet data usage increased by more than double the previous quarter (Q2)’s usage to record a 39.1% increase. This increase translates to the mobile internet data usage of 4,129.4 GB (though stated as 4,129.4 Terabytes in the report). Side note: Also in the Q3 report is a disparity between the figure recorded to have been the total mobile internet data used in Q2 and that stated in the Q2 report itself. In the Q2 report it says Q2 had a mobile internet usage of 2,688,410GB while in the Q3 report it states a usage of 2,968.2 Terabytes (still in Terabytes) for the same Quarter.
That confusion put aside (which we will dismiss as typos for the sake of progress… for now), the increase in the use of mobile internet data is also a good story. So not only is the internet penetration increasing but the data being used is also increasing. However, it seems social media is the reason for that increase, well at least that’s what the Q2 report stated. But unfortunately, unlike the Potraz Q2 report, Q3 does not give us a breakdown of how much of that data is used on social media.
In as much as we hope to go beyond defining our internet as social media, I would submit that it’s not entirely a bad thing. Of course we’d love data beyond social media bundles to be more affordable so we can leverage more on the internet in its entirety but we certainly cannot be too blind to see the important role social media plays in our lives. For example, social media is being used for business and for bond coups, well the coup part isn’t too accurate but still, no doubt that it played a huge role in mobilising people as well as keeping them informed on the proceedings that led to the former president’s step down etc.
Nonetheless, with all said and done, Q3 seems to be the best quarter so far this year… as far as the internet is concerned that is. We will be writing more on how Mobile Network Operators and other factors contributed to this in future articles. Until then!