Data beats voice
The MTN update showed another 4.5m subscribers disconnected in its biggest market, Nigeria. The company also published average revenue per user (ARPU) stats, a number the telcos used to trumpet until it started to slip a few years back. The Nigerian ARPU increased 11.9%, suggesting that maybe those being disconnected were not quality clients anyway. In South Africa ARPU was down 9.2% with prepaid ARPU down 10.2%. This is the trend as users move away from expensive airtime and SMSes to much cheaper messaging services like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or any other service using small amounts of data rather than the more expensive traditional options. I have written about this before: the data usage increases are significant, but at much lower rates as the large telcos ultimately turn into utilities.