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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Mobile data revenues more than messaging?

There's plenty of commentary today about Vodafone's half-year results out today. However, given the currency fluctuations that have been going on, you need to be a professor of accountancy to back out some of the more granular underlying trends. Nevertheless, there's plenty of evidence of both the economy and tightening competition and regulation squeezing some of the historic cash cows like roaming.

On the upside, there's plenty of healthy growth in European mobile broadband, which is taking the edge off the declines in voice revenues somewhat.

One little data point I do find a bit strange is tucked away on page 14 of the results release. Apparently, the EMAPA region (Eastern Europe, Africa, Middle East & Pacific)  has seen particularly spectacular increases in mobile data revenues, more than doubling compared to the same period in 2007. But what's really odd is that for Africa & Middle East, data revenues now exceed messaging , by £127m to £107m. That compares with £48m vs £88m last year. Given that number is mostly made up of Egypt, South Africa [Vodacom] and India, I guess that indicates a huge ramp-up of 3G modems at Vodacoms, possibly aided by mobile payments.

The release says "Strong growth in data revenue was driven by the increased penetration of mobile PC connectivity devices, as the absence of fixed line alternatives makes mobile data a more attractive offering. Data revenue also benefited from the launch of South Africa’s first high speed uplink packet access (‘HSUPA’) and the launch of Vodafone M-Pesa/Vodafone Money Transfer service in Tanzania"

I don't think I've seen any other operators reporting 3G dongle revenues > SMS, so that's definitely a first if true.  Vodacom reports its detailed group financial report next Monday, so maybe we'll get some deeper insight.


Anonymous said...

The M-PESA figures are truly amazing. There are now over four million customers in Kenya, so it's not surprising that they are showing up in the accounts!

Anonymous said...

the ONLY revenue source that is growing is data revenues, look at verizon Q3 43% up now 25% of all revenue! Biggest issue is that these carriers need to understand that an open access model for mobile broadband, using some form of dynamic arbitrage is the only way forward otherwise they will go broke providing the network infra to support this business.

Nadeem Akhtar said...

I'm not sure if India contributed much to the impressive growth in non-SMS data services. The 3G spectrum auctions are yet to take place (now scheduled for mid-Jan, 2009). Even then, most operators in India want to use 3G to boost their voice capacity. With a very large semi-literate and illiterate population, demand for data connections will be limited to the urban and suburban areas, whereas network expansion in small towns and rural areas is expected to increase voice and SMS traffic.