Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Internet usage surged in 2020 thanks to cheaper access

The advent of the Covid-19 pandemic has been a boon for telecommunication companies, with the usage of data services rising to double digits, according to latest data from Statistics Botswana.

According to the Botswana information and communications technology statistics for the last quarter of 2020, there was increased usage of mobile internet despite slight reductions in fixed telephone subscriptions and mobile phones.

Fixed telephone subscriptions declined from 2019’s 141,896 to 140,003 in the last quarter of 2020, reflecting a 1.3 percent drop. Though post paid mobile cellular contracts increased last year, there was a decrease in number of pre-paid cellular, bringing the total mobile cellular subscriptions to 3.8 million.

However, internet usage showed strong growth last year as households and firms adjusted to the new normal of carrying much of the work virtually, requiring  the use of data services. The country registered an increase of 13 percent in internet subscriptions, growing from 2 million to 2.3 million. Nearly 95 percent of internet access was through mobile internet. 

The three operators, Mascom, orange and BTC Mobile last year slashed data charges, following an agreement with the government to adjust data costs.

Meanwhile, the Transport and Communications minister Thulaganyo Segokgo earlier this month said the country will no longer go ahead with the planned implementation of mobile number portability (MNP), which would have allowed users to switch from one mobile network to another while retaining their number, resulting in increased competition and minimal inconvenience to customers.

The lack of MNP has been attributed to the country having the world’s highest mobile penetration as the current 3.8 million registered cellular numbers is larger than the Botswana’s estimated population of 2.4 million. The high mobile penetration is the result of the country’s dual simcard market, where consumers hold multiple numbers from the three mobile network operators.

The minister disclosed that the MNP which has been in development for the past nine years could not be implemented following a readiness assessment study that established that it will not be feasible to implement the mobile number portability. 

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