MTN data revenue rockets

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Second mobile operator MTN reported a 49% leap in data revenue from the previous financial year, of which its South African operation contributed 58% of the group total.

Outgoing MTN CEO Phuthuma Nhleko said this morning at the company's financial presentation, for the year ended 31 December, that MTN views data-related services as one of its key revenue drivers over the past year, as well as the year ahead.

Nhleko pointed out the booming figures include packet switched data users, which increased from 6.6 million to 9.2 million in SA. Meanwhile, 3G handsets were up by three million units, including the sale of 1.6 million smartphones.

The data boom continued across MTN's African operations as MTN Nigeria reported a data revenue increase of 25%, while MTN Ghana increased by 87%. Nhleko attributes this success to the introduction of bundled offerings and reduced data prices in these regions.

MTN's Syrian operation experienced data revenue growth of over 100%, which MTN attributes to better value propositions for both pre- and postpaid offerings in the market.

On the back of these results, Nhleko noted that MTN is focused on the introduction of new commercial and innovation functions to drive further penetration of its data products and services.

He noted that this includes investments and upgrades of network and IT infrastructure, including 3G and WiMax over the next year.

Frost & Sullivan industry analyst Spiwe Chireka maintains that mobile data will continue to buoy the company's performance in SA, but with the likes of Cell C competing for what used to be MTN and Vodacom's turf in the mobile data services segment, MTN will need to be proactive in protecting its market share.

Looking forward, Nhleko's successor, Sifiso Dabengwa, noted the company would focus on leveraging data opportunities, as well as facilitate increases in smartphone availability.

He added that MTN would look at segment-focused products and services, and would also consider partnership models for the development of value-added services offerings.

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