Listed telecommunication company Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL) is pinning its hopes on fixed network for growth in the face of increased competition from other players within the industry.
BTCL Managing Director Anthony Masunga said in the company’s latest annual report that they remain a dominant player in the fixed broadband market with 68 percent market share.
Masunga said they have however realised an increase in competition in the space from new and existing players.
“We, however, strongly believe that we can capitalise on our extensive fixed network and derive more value from it, on the back of an increase in internet usage in the residential segment and in the year under review we registered a 4 percent increase in fixed broadband usage,” Masunga said in the report, adding that there is an overall increase in demand for higher speeds and larger data capacities.
In the year-ended 31 March 2018, BTCL recorded an 8 percent decrease in profit after tax with the profit for the year standing at P217 million.
During the same period, BTCL saw its revenue go down by 3 percent and the decline was attributed to pressure on mobile revenue, with other revenue lines remaining flat. According to Masunga, fixed business which includes both voice and broadband is still a major revenue contributor at 65 percent.
Even in the face of increased competition, Masunga said they have been able to maintain their mobile market share even as there is a notable shrink in overall mobile market subscriber base and an intensively competitive landscape.
“Botswana has traditionally been a dual sim market, with mobile penetration in excess of 100 percent. During the year under review we have seen a decline in mobile market penetration rates after several years of significant increases,” Masunga said.
In the previous years, market penetration is said to have stood at 159 percent, down from 171 percent, which Masunga partly attributed to the sim registration requirements which have resulted in some sim cards falling off the market.
“We expect a true picture to the subscriber base to emerge over time,” he said. Masunga also touched on the regulatory landscape which, he said, continues to evolve with time, pointing out the tariff rebalancing that has benefitted smaller players.
The regulator Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) has recently imposed tariff rebalancing through the removal of off-net premiums.
Masunga said pressure continues to mount for operators to reduce tariffs, especially data tariffs, which he said are still prohibitive for many consumers.
“We expect that the new ICT licensing framework which is currently in development will bring about efficiencies which will help in tariff reductions,” Masunga said, adding that they continue to lobby the regulator for a more equitable and competitive landscape which is in the best interest of network operators and the public.
One area of such discussions, Masunga said is the number portability which they believe will significantly contribute to leveling the playing field.
With the regulator continuing to tighten laws regarding sim registrations, Masunga said the initiative is likely to result in increased sim card disconnections and inherently reduction in the mobile subscriber base across board.