Growth in internet and data traffic sustained the telecommunications sector performance during the first three months (Q1) of the year as other revenue channels were subdued, industry regulator, Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe’s 2020 first quarter report reveals.
Despite a tough quarter, mobile Internet and data traffic increased by 2.8% to record 6,661TB from 6,489TB recorded in the previous quarter.
Used international internet bandwidth capacity by Internet Access Providers also increased by 8.2% to record 124,627 Mbps in the first quarter of 2020 from 115,212 Mbps recorded in the fourth quarter of 2019.
“The period was characterized by growth in revenue generated by the mobile telephone networks which grew by 26.2% to record $2.1 billion in the first quarter of 2020 from $1.65 billion recorded in the fourth quarter of 2019,” the report said.
However, mobile network operating costs grew by 46.1% to record $1.4 billion from $988.2 million recorded in the previous quarter as conventional lines of revenue dipped.
The period under review registered a decline in total fixed voice traffic which fell by 6.9% to record 112.1 million minutes in the first quarter of 2020 from 120.35 million minutes recorded in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Total voice traffic processed by the mobile networks also declined by 4.7% to record 1.33billion minutes from 1.4billion minutes recorded in the fourth quarter of 2019.
The mobile money business was subdued, recording an overall decline of 5.9% and 14% in the value of cash-in and cash-out transactions respectively. This is attributable to the cash shortages in the economy, the report said.
Internet and data usage remains the bedrock of the sector going forward.
“Data and internet services will continue to drive industry growth. The shift towards telecommuting and e-learning will drive demand for data and accelerate the voice-data substitution,” Potraz said.
The use of Over-the-Top services, such as WhatsApp, Skype and Viber, is expected to grow in the current economic environment as consumers cut back on communication expenditure.