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COMPETITION for subscribers between Zimbabwe’s three major mobile network providers continues to intensify as a slow down in business and new communications technology take their toll on traditional revenue streams.

The three companies are rolling out a series of promotions and in some cases, erecting billboards in a bid to outdo each other for customer attention.

This development comes after the regulatory authority, Postal and Telecommunications Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) announced in a report that mobile telecommunications revenue in the first quarter of 2014 had fallen by 16% to US$213 million.

The authority noted that the country’s mobile penetration rate presently stands at 106%, as Econet grew its market share to 65,3% from the previous 63% recorded in December last year.

NetOne performed relatively better in the first quarter of this year, gaining 1% in new subscriptions to 2,4 million.

However, Telecel lost about 111 000 subscribers and witnessed a substantial decline in Average Revenue Per User (Arpu) to US$4 in the first quarter of 2014 as compared to US$6 in the third quarter of 2012.

“Telecel Zimbabwe is committed to providing its customers with high-tech mobile phone products and services at an affordable cost,” runs a statement on Telelcel’s twitter page #TellSomeone.

However, Econet has of late been running full page aertisements in the mainstream media announcing a promotion that allows subscribers to enjoy free twitter for a month, with a twitter payline that runs “#Tellsomeone.” The promotion runs from July 20 to August 20 this year and is available to all Econet subscribers.

Econet also appears to take a satirical dig at Telecel and calls on the young and active market to switch over to Econet.

“Hey #Twimbos It’s time to UPGRADE your Tele… communications provider amp switch to Econet for the best value. #263chat” reads another tweet.

The company informs potential subscribers that it offers “the best coverage, the widest network, best value added services and free tweets.”

Both mobile network providers are increasingly focusing on improving data services as the voice market nears “saturation point.”

The telecommunications companies are also on the racetrack to gain competitive positions for the new mobile banking market.

Telecel recently introduced its Telecash Goldcard that enables subscribers to use their debit cards for atm cash withdrawals and point of sale purchases in supermarkets.

Econet and Telecel are running daily aertisements with introduction of special bundles and are reducing tariffs owing to price competition.

“Can you imagine browsing Facebook using any handset? Now you can!” runs another aertisement promising to introduce a new service.

Not to be outdone, Telecel announces in a screaming aertisement that TelecelGo is “not a promotion” as subscribers can call for 10 cents per minute across all networks for US$1.

Experts however contend that Telecel is still behind Econet as subscriber numbers speak for themselves and urge Telecel to focus on the needs of its market and work all out to maintain the remaining subscriber base.

Others argue that should Potraz introduce mobile number portability, then more people will switch networks more easily.

Source : Zimbabwe Standard