As data adoption accelerated, JSE-listed telecommunications group Vodacom aimed to secure 30% of its revenue from data traffic within the next three years, CEO Shameel Joosub said on Monday.
Speaking at the group’s financial results presentation, at Vodacom’s Midrand headquarters, he commented that voice revenue would continue its decline, but the impact could be offset by the rise in data traffic, which was expected to grow at least 20% a year over the next few years.
Vodacom reported a 4.5% rise in group revenue in the year ended March 31, to R69.9-billion, from R66.9-billion in 2012.
Increased smartphone adoption – which accounted for 60% of all data consumption – was driving the demand for data, which recorded a 22.2% rise in revenue during the year to March 2013.
Voice revenue recorded stagnant growth of 3.3% across the group to R35-billion during the year under review.
The telecommunication group’s South African operations experienced a 0.8% decline in voice revenue, to R29-billion – a trend that was likely to continue – while mobile data jumped 16.3% to R8.8-billion during the year ended March 2013.
Its international operations, namely Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and Lesotho, recorded a 28.5% growth in voice revenue – reaching R6-billion during the period under review.
Data revenue within Vodacom’s international operations recorded growth of 106.9%, as data customers increased 40.9% to 4.1-million in the 2013 financial year.
Joosub noted that Vodacom would continue its infrastructure spend to ensure the group captured the rising data growth.
Over the past five years, Vodacom spent R38-billion in network infrastructure across its operations – R28-billion of which was directed to South Africa.
During the 2013 financial year, R9.5-billion was spent across the group – up 9.2% from the prior year - to expand third-generation (3G) coverage and embark on a network renewal project.
South Africa’s share of the group capital expenditure (capex) – R6.9-billion – was injected into connecting sites with high-speed transmission, of which over 6 000 were completed to date; the radio access network (Ran) renewal project, which was expected to be complete within the next 18 months; and adding new base stations across the country.
Vodacom established over 900 3G sites over the past year, which brought the group’s total to 6 167, as well as 467 second-generation (2G) sites, which now totalled 9 348 across South Africa.
Over 600 long-term evolution (LTE) sites had also gone live during the year and Vodacom now had 75% of its current LTE network ready.
In the rest of Vodacom’s African operations, the firm invested 70.6% more capex, reaching R2.8-billion, to expand the voice and data network coverage and capacity, in addition to upgrading Ran sites.
Further, 939 2G and 848 3G sites were added across the operations during the year to March 2013.
Vodacom aimed to inject between 11% and 13% of group revenue over the next year into expansion and upgrade projects aimed at improving its network.