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Mobile data is now just 3.2% short of beating out voice calls as the top earner

Mobile Internet, Apple, Broadband Zimbabwe, POTRAZ report Q3 2021

The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) has today released its sector performance report for Q3 2021. And as I am sure you all expected, mobile data has continued its march upwards. According to the report, mobile internet traffic increased by 10.4% to record 25,902,392,908MB from the 23,436,332,679MB registered in Q2 2021.

Period Under ReviewInternet Traffic (Terabytes TB)
Q1 20206,661
Q2 202010,407
Q3 303014,878
Q4 202016,383
Q1 202121,865
Q2 202123,436
Q3 202125,902
POTRAZ Mobile Internet Usage Statistics

The explosion in mobile internet usage over the pandemic has been something to behold especially considering that data prices have been tracking upwards as well. It looks like whatever may come, Zimbabweans are not hindered from some sort of internet presence even if it may just be a WhatsApp bundle. The consumption of mobile data has also been reflected in the growth of its revenue share, as it registered a 2.5% growth in contribution from the figure recorded in Q2 2021.

The revenue contribution of Internet & data service has been consistently increasing as demand is consistently rising. An increase in out-of-bundle mobile Internet and data traffic was recorded in the quarter under review and this had a positive impact on revenue.

POTRAZ Q3 2021 Report

Mobile data is now just 3.2% shy of beating out Voice Calls as the industry’s biggest earner (with the gap to voice now just being 3.1%) and this trend has been brewing for some time.

Period Under ReviewVoice Calls Revenue ShareMobile Data Revenue Share
Q1 202049.1%29.3%
Q2 202044.6%31.9%
Q3 202048.1%28.3%
Q4 202048.2%31.7%
Q1 202143.7%36.7%
Q2 202143.9%36.4%
Q3 202142.0%38.9%

The fluctuations here are also being affected by the erosion of other services like SMS and Sim card sales

A similar trend affected fixed telephone services

The ground gained by mobile internet to voice calls is similar to that which affected landlines. For a long time now the internet has been the biggest earner for fixed telephone operators dating back to Q1, 2020 when internet services contributed 71.6% to their total revenue.

Now, it might be too early to say for certain that mobile internet will take over voice calls as the biggest earner because smart capable phones that can run WhatsApp and other over the internet equivalents of traditional services are not easily accessible, price-wise. They come at quite the cost even the feature phones which companies like Econet and TelOne have brought to the market. This is on top of the cost of data that seems to be reviewed every other week and the proliferation of mobile internet infrastructure across Zimbabwe (especially rural areas).

The rise in mobile data revenue share might just be a case of those who can afford mobile internet buying bundles more than they are using voice calls. We are still in the pandemic, video conferencing, e-learning and remote work are almost commonplace now.

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