Things are likely to get much tougher this year for SA’s largest cellular network, Vodacom, as pressure to cut high data prices intensifies and competition increases. On the face of it, Vodacom seems solid enough: it has 40m subscribers in SA, is still considered a "buy" by just under half of 17 analysts polled by Bloomberg, and its share on a p:e ratio of 15 is much cheaper than that of its arch-rival, MTN (on a p:e of 32). But the headwinds are mounting — not least because regulators are looking to crack down on data prices. Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub seems well aware of this, telling investors in November that his company will be cutting data prices in a "controlled way to manage the impact on growth and profitability".This is a big threat. Last year, for the first time, Vodacom SA’s data revenue of R11.4bn surpassed its revenue from voice calls. In all, its services revenue was R26.4bn. But already, for the first half of its financial year (the six months to September), Vodacom’...

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