Cell C struggles to reach numbers

Robert Laing

Robert Laing

Vodacom has more than 58percent, MTN has 33,5percent and Cell C barely has 8percent of the South African cellphone market, judging from the most recent subscriber numbers re-vealed by the mobile networks.

This means that Cell C, the third entrant into South Africa's cellphone market five years ago, hasn't managed to achieve half its goal of a 20percent market share by this year. The eight-year head start Vodacom and MTN were given seem to have made the incumbent duo-poly unassailable.

JSE-listed MTN said that it maintained its 36percent market share when it recently posted its results for the year ended December. MTN changed its financial year-end to coincide with Tel-kom, which publishes the figures of its half-owned mobile arm Vodacom. MTN's claimed market share doesn't tally with the figures released by its two competitors.

Cell C yesterday told Reuters that it had just under three million customers at the end of last year, when Vodacom re-ported 21,8million subscribers and MTN reported 12,5million.

This indicates that Cell C's slice has narrowed a fraction from the 10percent market share it reported in June. The company's market share was expected to be boosted by new legislation introducing mobile number port-ability and the arrival of big league telecoms chief executive Jeffrey Hedberg, who joined Cell C last year from Deutsche Telekom.