Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

Vodacom lost about 337,000 prepaid customers while gaining 86,000 contract customers over the three months to end-December. 

“Prepaid customer growth was resilient, while efforts to reduce once-off use of SIM cards started to take effect, resulting in lower gross additions in the quarter,” Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub said in a quarterly update on Thursday morning.

Sacrificing prepaid customers resulted in an overall 0.6% quarterly decline in SA customer numbers to 43.8-million, which was offset by growth in other countries to help its total subscriber numbers grow 0.25% to 79-million from the September quarter.

The cellphone network provided revenue figures that were complicated by a change in accounting rules.

Under Vodacom’s new accounting rules, its December quarter revenue came to R22.2bn, down from R22.6bn in the matching period in 2017.

But under the old accounting rules, its December quarter revenue was nearly R23bn, showing 1.5% growth.

Even using the old accounting rules, its South African revenue declined 0.9% to R13.9bn while revenue from Tanzania, DRC, Mozambique and Lesotho grew 13.2% to R5.2bn.

Vodacom provided separate average revenue per user (arpu) figures for the old and new accounting systems.

Under the new accounting rules, prepaid users increased their mobile usage slightly from R55 a month in the December quarter from R54 in the September quarter, while contract users cutback to R307 a month from R325.

“Contract customer service revenue was down 2.7%, impacted by reduced out-of-bundle data spend, as well as customers continuing to migrate to more inclusive value contracts as part of our pricing transformation strategy,” Joosub said.

“In the period we have also seen more customers selecting from our lower-value packages in order to control their spend, in the context of the weaker economic environment.”