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The Telecommunications Industry and the Retail of Devices
Excluding broadcasting and postal services, the telecommunications industry was worth R148.8bn in 2016, with its value increasing by 1% year-on-year. The sector contributed 2.7% to GDP and employed 26,669 people, according to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA).
Changing Consumer Spend
There is a clear shift towards mobile over fixed-line connectivity, as well as internet over voice services. Mobile data revenue increased significantly, more than 25% year-on-year, while mobile voice revenue declined by 5.9% in 2016. In 2010 mobile spend on voice accounted for 77% of total mobile revenue, with data at just 8%. As of 2017, data now accounts for between 40% and 43% of mobile service revenue, and voice has fallen below 50%. All of the large mobile operators have identified data and mobile broadband as the key growth area of their businesses and have invested heavily in infrastructure to increase the coverage and speed of their networks. Local investment reached R28.1bn in 2016, from R24bn in 2015. Of this total, 68% was invested in mobile communications services and network expansion, 18% in fixed broadband services and network, and just 1% was spent on fixed-line telephone and voice infrastructure.
The detailed report on the South African Telecommunications sector examines the key trends and developments in the sector over the last year and the market for mobile devices. Also discussed are the regulatory challenges facing the sector, particularly the revised plan for South Africa's broadband strategy, SA Connect, as well as the publication of the National Integrated ICT Policy. Profiles for 77 companies are provided. These include the three dominant companies in the mobile arena, Vodacom, MTN and Cell C, as well as smaller firms such as FNB Connect and me&you which act as mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs). Also profiled are wholesalers and retailers of mobile devices including the largest non-network retailer of phones, PEP Stores, which sold more than 7 million handsets during 2016.