The number of registered cellphone users in the country declined for the first time in more than eight years, with the impact of Covid-19 reducing multiple device usage, while companies came through for their employees, resulting in increased internet usage, revealed data from Statistics Botswana
According to the information and communication technology statistics for the second quarter of the year, pre-paid mobile cellular telephone subscriptions declined by 6.2 percent after registering 3.6 million between April and June, down from 3.8 million in the first quarter.
However, post-paid mobile cellular telephone subscriptions realised a significant increase in the second quarter, jumping by 16.7 percent from 109,041 to 127,250 between April and June. The rise in contract phones was attributed to employers acquiring devices for workers to enable working from home during lockdowns.
Total internet subscriptions – mobile and fixed internet subscriptions – increased during the quarter, thanks to the decision to reduce data costs as well as remote working. According to the figures, mobile internet subscriptions increased from 1.9 million in March to 2 million in June, while fixed internet subscriptions went up from 47,042 to 48,596 in the same period.
Compared to 2019’s second quarter, this year’s corresponding quarter registered a 12 percent increase in overall internet subscriptions. Mobile internet subscriptions increased by 13.1 percent, while fixed internet subscriptions increased by 5.2 percent during this period.
The three operators, Mascom, orange and BTC Mobile, experienced increased data connectivity this year following the outbreak of Covid19, which offered a silver lining for the telcos. Some measures put in place to limit the movement and interaction of people in efforts to curb the spread of the virus resulted in people working from homes thus requiring more than usual usage of internet connectivity.
During the lockdown, which ran from early April to mid-May, consumers complained of the high data costs, spurring the minister of Transport and Communication to instruct the mobile operators to reduce data charges.