The latest quarterly report from the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) shows a dramatic decline in active mobile subscriptions in the three months to 31 March 2018.
The user total dropped 16.8% in the first quarter of the year, from 14.09 million to 11.73 million. The drop was attributed largely to declines at state-owned cellco NetOne, which lost almost half of its subscriber base in three months, with its customer total falling from 4.96 million to 2.63 million.
Part of the reason behind NetOne’s customer losses has been the completion of an exercise to close inactive accounts, but the operator has also been the victim of problems with its once-popular OneFusion voice and data bundles.
Earlier this year subscribers began complaining that their monthly bandwidth was being depleted by Facebook and WhatsApp usage when access to these two services was meant to be covered by a totally separate data allowance. NetOne blamed this on changes made by Facebook and offered to compensate users with 150MB of free data, but TechZim reports that this has done little to appease subscribers, many of whom appear to have abandoned the OneFusion product.
Another state-backed mobile provider, Telecel, also had a bad quarter, seeing its customer total drop 12.4% to 1.44 million. Only privately-owned cellco Econet Wireless reported subscriber gains, with its active user base climbing 2.2% in three months to 7.65 million.