The increased usage of social media platforms has negatively affected the traditional voice call services resulting in decreased turnover for public-owned Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL).
Presenting the company results recently, BTCL Managing Director, Anthony Masunga said the corporation has seen reduced numbers on normal voice call services but subscribers rather opt for social network communications such as Wattsapp and Facebook. “We are currently experiencing a decline in fixed voice calls due to mobile substitution. There is a shift from a traditional voice services because people are now migrating to cheaper faster and faster technologies,” said Masunga. The corporation recorded eight percent decline in profits to P217 million while revenue declined by three percent to P1, 5 billion in 2018.
He highlighted that it is difficult to operate under this increased competition because these are non-regulated services. “As much as traditional players are under regulation but these new technology services are not regulated. The question is now how do we operate within this changing ecosystem. In other countries, some of these services are regulated and subscribers are required to pay through network operators. This is a policy issue; the regulator needs to ensure that Recently Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority approved new retail tariffs for Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to eliminate Off-Net premiums and ensure that MNOs charge consumers the same tariff for On-Net and Off-Net calls. MNOs are expected to implement the reduction of tariffs in two phases.
Masunga explained that in response to technology trends the corporation has adopted modernized, faster and cheaper technologies which are aligned with customer demands. During the year, customers were migrated to new technologies which are scalable and more efficient. Masunga said they expect that efficiencies and usage will improve as we complete the migration phase and retire old technologies. “We anticipate increased demand of our services in the long term as a result of improved network quality of service,” said Masunga.
Masunga also highlighted that competition in the telecommunications sector continued to intensify with the entry of new internet service providers leading to a downward pressure on prices. “This had an impact on our performance for the year. We however saw an increase in the uptake of data-centric products in line with market trends. The business during the year made P121m worth of investments in fixed broadband expansion and LTE/4G mobile broadband optimization to increase network coverage and enhance our value proposition,” said Masunga.
Available figures from Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority indicate that Botswana has one of the highest records of mobile penetration at 176 percent, internet users’ stand at 21.4 percent while the fixed line telephony services stand at 8.2 percent.