The great non-port

Finweek English Edition - - Communication & technology - BELINDA AN­DER­SON be­lin­daa@ fin­week. co. za

TELKOM SUB­SIDIARY Vo­da­com this week re­leased sub­scriber num­bers for the De­cem­ber 2006 quar­ter. Most in­ter­est­ing, per­haps, is the early in­di­ca­tion it gave on mo­bile num­ber porta­bil­ity. Vo­da­com has long down­played the ef­fect that num­ber porta­bil­ity would have in the South African mar­ket and like sec­ond big­gest in the SA mar- ket, MTN, it’s spent sig­nif­i­cant ad­ver­tis­ing rev­enue to re­tain its cus­tomers and en­cour­age those of other net­works to move to it.

Now Vo­da­com says the to­tal num­ber of cus­tomers join­ing and leav­ing its net­work due to num­ber porta­bil­ity so far is around 20 000 – less than the num­ber of new con­nec­tions it usu­ally ac­ti­vates in a sin­gle day.

It doesn’t – like big­gest po­ten­tial

ben­e­fi­ciary Cell C has re­cently – pro­fess to have been a net gainer from num­ber porta­bil­ity. But Vo­da­com said it had gained twice as many con­tract cus­tomers as it had lost.

Al­though Vo­da­com lost more pre­paid sub­scribers than it gained through num­ber porta­bil­ity, this end of the mar­ket is more fickle and ac­counts for the high­est churn any­way ( it’s im­ma­te­rial to most pre- paid sub­scribers whether they keep their num­ber or not). In­ter­est­ingly though, even pre- paid churn was down on the pre­vi­ous quar­ter.

Stock bro­ker­age Imara SP Reid said it was en­cour­aged by Vo­da­com’s re­ported growth of 7,8% to 21,8m in the SA base in the face of num­ber porta­bil­ity, com­pe­ti­tion and high pen­e­tra­tion, which it had thought would un­der­cut Vo­da­com’s growth go­ing for­ward. The fact that it gained more con­tract sub­scribers than it lost so far “ in­di­cated that the ef­fects of num­ber porta­bil­ity won’t be as down­beat as we had en­vis­aged,” Steve Mein­t­jes wrote in a re­search note.

The up­beat out­look for Vo­da­com in SA doesn’t change Imara’s view on its par­ent, how­ever, and it main­tained that share­hold­ers should still switch out of Telkom shares.

Nat­u­rally, the smaller play­ers in the lo­cal tele­coms space don’t share Vo­da­com’s view of num­ber porta­bil­ity. Cell C said in a re­cent state­ment that it – in­clud­ing Vir­gin Mo­bile – had cap­tured 40% of all ports and was a net gainer hav­ing lost only 13% of all ports.

While Cell C con­ceded that the num­bers so far were still small, it said it had never ex­pected a “ big bang” ef­fect and was pleased with the way the process was gain­ing mo­men­tum.

Dat­aPro’s Vox­T­ele­com also said re­cently the ini­tially small num­bers were not sur­pris­ing, as peo­ple would wait for their cur­rent con­tracts to ex­pire be­fore de­cid­ing whether to move or re­new. And even though seem­ing a non- event, num­ber porta­bil­ity would in the long run force the net­works and ser­vice providers to pay more at­ten­tion to the needs of cus­tomers, it said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.