This morning Vodacom reported its financials for the year ending 31st March 2020 and while it’s an incredible success story from a particularly trying year, it is also quite remarkable to see Vodacom’s robust network.

Data traffic grew a staggering 66 percent for the year showcasing that “hunger for data” we often hear so much about.

There are now 21.9 million data customers on the network and smartphone users are up 11.8 percent with 73.3 percent of that making use of 4G.

It also appears as if Vodacom’s move to discount data rates (this is before even more discounts earlier this year) proved successful. The average data use rate per device in South Africa clocked in at 1.5GB.

This trend in the increase of data rates may prove useful in the long run. With Vodacom being pressured to discount data rates and give its customers access to free or zero-rated services, this data appetite of customers growing is a good sign for the network operator.

Vodacom’s fibre network has also grown and impressively so. The network operator’s owned fibre now passes 104 000 with 61 427 of those being added in the second half of the last financial year.

Looking beyond our borders, data growth is also on the up and up. Vodacom added 2.3 million new data customers to bring the total to 20 million. Of that figure on 10.2 million are on smartphones.

Vodacom has noted that average data use per customer in Tanzania and Mozambique now sits at almost 1GB.

Data during a time of COVID-19

With South Africans now working from home and potentially spending a lot more time online due to lockdown restrictions, Vodacom’s investment in its network has proved rather valuable.

“During the immediate period of lockdown in South Africa, there was an increase in data traffic of up to 40% driven by growth in paid traffic for businesses as employees work from home and people entertain through streaming and other data services, as well as increased free traffic for education, government and health portals for COVID-19 information,” Vodacom wrote in its earnings statement.

But more than just its network, digital services appear to be a big investment for Vodacom moving forward and that makes sense.

While folks may not be willing to invest in new devices given the economic uncertainty inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, customers may be more willing and able to spend on digital services such as entertainment.

Vodacom notes that its videos, gaming and music services are gaining traction and will continue to invest in them.

“We believe that continuing to invest into our network, IT and new platforms such as financial services is important throughout this period and we will maintain our flexibility in relation to the amount of capital expenditure and its allocation to different priorities
considering the COVID-19 effects on the local economies in our markets,” the network operator said.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]
Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.