State-owned mobile phone operator NetOne is closing in on Econet, Zimbabwe’s largest mobile phone network and now has 4.7million active subscribers compared to Econet’s 6.4 million according to figures released by the Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority this week.
Econet, which is owned by Zimbabwe’s richest man, Strive Masiyiwa, has slowly been losing its market share which is now down to 49.4 percent.
Three years ago, Econet had more than double the number of subscribers of Telecel and NetOne combined.
In 2014 it had 8 522 941 while Telecel had 2 544 339 and NetOne has 2 451 607.
Now the two state-owned networks, NetOne and Telecel, combined, have more subscribers than Econet.
They also now have more subscribers than Econet which has a total of 10 075 656 subscribers.
Telecel has 4 643 325 and NetOne 5 842 456.
Econet has 3.7 million non-active subscribers while Telecel has 2.8 million and NetOne 1.1 million.
Last year alone Econet saw its market share drop from 52.1 percent at the beginning of the year to 49.4 by September and it has remained at 49 percent.
Telecel lost ground with its market share which stood at 14.1 percent at the beginning of the year dropping to 13.7 percent in the second quarter rising to 14.2 percent in the third quarter and dropping to 14 percent by year-end.
NetOne’s market share increased steadily each quarter from 33.8 percent to 34.7 percent in the second quarter, 36.4 percent in the third quarter and 36.6 percent in the fourth quarter.
Although Econet still dominates data usage it only saw an increase of 5.2 percent is usage from the third to fourth quarter of last year, while Telecel saw a 19.5 percent increase and NetOne a staggering 110.5 percent increase.
Econet still dominates in the number of base stations and has been resisting government calls for sharing infrastructure. But NetOne is closing in again.
Econet has 2 400 two-G base stations, 1 183 three-G base stations and 497 LTE base stations.
Three-G base stations are now the most used with Two-G is slowly losing ground.
Telecel has been stagnant at 661 two-G and 361 three-G stations. It does not have any LTE base stations.
NetOne, on the other hand, has 1 674 two-G base stations 731 three-G base stations and 261 LTE base stations.
Although NetOne has more than 200 fewer LTE stations than Econet, it built 111 stations in the fourth quarter alone while Econet did not build any.