MTN Uganda slashes its data bundle prices
February 20—MTN Uganda, a subsidiary of the South African telecom multinational, has intensified the drive to make data use more affordable by slashing prices and hoping increased turnover will reflect positively on the average revenue per user (ARPU) figures .
“What we are currently witnessing is data revolution coming into full swing. The reduction in pricing is by over 100%, indicating our commitment towards internet connectivity and affordability for all,” Wim Vanhelleputte, the MTN Uganda CEO said.
The country’s biggest mobile network with just over 50% of total subscribers sees the price reductions as a way to drive further internet connectivity, facilitate business growth and enable communication through internet-based channels.
Social media and in particular the popularity of such platforms as Facebook and WhatsApp are shoring up data sales, but many smart phone owners continue to complain that data bundle prices are too high which limits their usage. Data costs more than a call, but telecom firms also make more money on data than voice or SMS. Industry sources also add that Uganda’s has some of the lowest pre-paid data bundle prices in sub-Saharan Africa, cheaper than South Africa, Kenya,Egypt or Nigeria.
According to officials, the MTN Uganda revised rates are not just price based, but also include higher data volumes for a lower price. For instance, the lower data bundle threshold has been increased to 15MBs from 10MB at a price of UGX250. Under the old tariff, for UGX5000 (about $1.30), a customer would get 325MB, but with the new rates, a customer gets 1GB. For UGX100,000, you can now get 30GB for a month compared to the UGX285,000 charged previously for the same bundle.
“It is important that our customers not only get lower rates, but also experience a good quality network – where we are keen to continuously invest; everywhere. MTN Uganda over a two year period of 2017 and 2018 has budgeted over UGX400 billion(nearly $110 million) invested in network upgrades in order to improve customer experience. This will increase our 3G sites and 4G/LTE sites to deliver a bold digital world to our customers,” Vanhelleputte said.
He said further investment in the network also means internet speeds will continue to improve, which will facilitate business growth and innovation. “In the world right now, the internet is driving innovation to unprecedented levels. We are seeing this in our numbers and data continues to be one of the fastest growing sources of revenue and subscriptions for MTN Uganda. We expect this trend to continue,” he said.
MTN Uganda at the end of December 2017 had approximately 12 million subscribers. The plan is to have at least two thirds of all MTN subscribers connected to the internet. This will happen with more affordable data, reliable network and affordable internet-enabled handsets.