Data services to drive BTCL growth

Andrew Maramwidze - BG reporter
Monday, 14 January 2019
BTCL MD, Anthony Masunga BTCL MD, Anthony Masunga

The national telco company, Botswana Telecommunications Limited (BTCL) said its data services are on an upward spiraling growth, as customers switch from voice and SMS to more data centric usage.

Announcing its unaudited interim financial statements for six months ended last September, the company CEO, Anthony Masunga said the development is in line with market trends. “The mobile data increased by more than 100 percent from the same period last year, albeit from a low base and on lower margins compared to voice,” said Masunga. He said more innovative broadband packages are on the pipeline to grow the company’s data offerings. Though data services has shown momentous growth on BTCL operations, Masunga said fixed voice remains a significant contributor, though marginally down for the period.

The statement indicates that BTCL recorded a profit for the period under review of P86m, a 12 percent decline from P98m racked in 2016 under the same period.“The overall decline in revenue is mainly  attributable to the challenges experienced in the mobile business during the first quarter of the year (between April and June 2018), we experienced some teething problems relating to migration of mobile customer to the new converged billing system,” said Masunga.

He said the challenges have been resolved paving way for launch of new innovative products and services in the data services category such as Live Social and My Conneck bundles.“We are now seeing an increased uptake of data services,” said Masunga reiterating BTCL growth in data services.

“To cater for the increased demand for data services, we will continue to make investments in enhancing the mobile and fixed broadband capabilities. We will expand 4G and FFTx networks to reach over 400 and 114 sites respectively by the end of the financial year,” said Masunga.Meanwhile, Aldrin Sivako, BTCL Chief Operations Officer told Botswana Guardian that BTCL has come up with High Throughput Satellite (HTS) that provides concentrated beams on specific locations and in the process offering high-speed broadband connectivity across the country.

“We are contributing to the National Broadband Strategy,” said Sivako, citing that BTCL exist to provide telecommunication service even to customers in remote areas.“Our customers anywhere they are should not be disadvantaged,” Sivako said and reckons it is key for BTCL to position herself through building capabilities for the future.He said BTCL is scanning the environment to harness capabilities so as to deliver digital experience and easy access to big data, the 4th industrial revolution’s target.

“There is so much data unused and as any operator, we are basically building that base, create an enabling platform for customers who may come to partner with us to leverage on this big data.”Sivako said BTCL is getting herself ready for the new developments such as the internet of things (IoT) and the machine to machine communications which are now a huge part of the current wave of industrial revolution.

“There is quite a lot that is happening even outside the telcomms space. We have become the centre, the key enabler for this and hence as an organisation, we have to position ourselves well now, not in the future,” said the COO.
Sivako highlighted that security service safe city project, e-government, remote diagnosis in the health sector and other innovation leverage on broadband.

“Everything that we are doing, we are no longer deploying narrow band systems – 2G or 3G, we have moved,” said Sivako, adding that BTCL is doing 4G in preparation for the future.Sivako said BTCL will continue to expand its network coverage and also automate its processes to improve efficiency with digital fronts, as the company endevour to be a leading telco company.

“Our benchmarks are the world’s number one such as Korea Telecommunications,” said Sivako, adding that BTCL has partnered with Korea Telecommunications as its technical partner.

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