MTN shop, Morningside, Sandton. Picture: ROBERT TSHABALALA
MTN shop, Morningside, Sandton. Picture: ROBERT TSHABALALA

MTN lost subscribers in most of its key markets in the September quarter, but raised its average revenue in local currencies from those who remained.

Measured in rand, however, the mobile network operator’s total revenue declined by 13.4%, it said in a quarterly operating update on Tuesday morning.

Its largest market, Nigeria, saw customer numbers fall 5.2% to 50.3-million.

MTN said this was due to "the modernisation of subscriber definitions". MTN Nigeria reported an 11.2% increase in total revenue measured in naira supported by data revenue growth of 72.1%.

In SA, MTN’s overall subscriber numbers declined by 1% to 30.9-million. It gained about 33,000 postpaid customers to take the total to 5.2-million but lost about 341,000 prepaid customers to take the total to 25.7-million.

The drop in South African prepaid customers was "mainly the result of higher churn following the withdrawal of a second-quarter promotion" MTN Group CEO Rob Shuter said in the statement.

MTN’s average revenue per user (arpu) for prepaid users increased by 4.9% to R75.87 a month while the average monthly bill of its postpaid customers was up 1.4% to R272.40, excluding telemetry.

Although an improvement from the previous quarter, MTN’s arpu from postpaid users peaked at R312.01 a month in the September quarter of 2016, so has declined 13% over the year.

"MTN SA continued to make good progress in improving the quality and capacity of its 3G and 4G network in the quarter with leading network metrics in three of the four metros in the country," Shuter said.

MTN’s overall monthly arpu from South African customers grew 3.4% to R88.12, or 2.8% to $6.69.

In Nigeria, MTN increased the arpu of its customers by 20.2% to 1,407.73 naira and 19.4% to $4.31.

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