Press Release

Cape Town, South Africa, August 30, 2017 View All Press Releases

Gartner Says End-User Spending on Communications Services in South Africa Will Grow 0.7 Per Cent in 2017

Analysts to Discuss Local Communications Service Providers' Strategies at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2017, September 18-21, Cape Town, South Africa

End-user spending on communications services in South Africa is forecast to total R122 billion in 2017, a 0.7 percent increase from 2016, according to Gartner, Inc.

"The forecast growth rate is slight, mainly due to shifts to less expensive legacy service offerings as competition heats up," said William Hahn, principal research analyst at Gartner. "It's likely to remain fairly flat in 2018 as increased competition in the access services segment erodes prices as fast as, or faster than, adjacent market revenues replace it."

Enterprise Spending Holds Steady

This slight growth in spending on communications services South Africa in 2017 compares favorably with the global market, which is forecast to show a 0.2 percent decline. Business customers are applying effective pressure to service providers to get shorter contracts, lower and more accurate pricing, and shifting to software-defined architectures that improve their ability to order only what they need at the time growth occurs. Gartner expects to see increased internet channels to branch offices, and the development of hybrid WANs as service providers improve fixed coverage and access to public clouds.

Growth in the Internet of Things promises a limited source of additional revenue for service providers, but ecosystems in areas such as automotive, manufacturing, healthcare and smart cities will require extensive expertise in professional services, consulting and support to deliver solid growth. Connectivity alone will become a commodity, just as with legacy subscribers.

Mobile Spending Is Rising but Challenges Remain

End-user mobile data and voice spending is forecast to total R95.5 billion in 2017, a 1.2 percent increase from 2016 (see Table 1). "Spending growth in this segment is slowing, mainly due to increased competition between the major providers as market penetration increases, as well as decreased emphasis on voice usage," said Mr. Hahn.

In South Africa (just as in the global market), the decline in spending on voice services (5.7 percent in 2017) offsets gains from an increase in data connections. "Many users engage in substitute messaging, such as IM chat, and the predominance of prepaid billing can accelerate this trend," said Mr. Hahn. "As legacy pricing comes under increased pressure, communications providers must expand the range of devices offered to end users to win the churn battle, incentivizing more data use with plans, value-added content and customer service."

Table 1. Forecast of End-User Spending on Communications Services in South Africa (Millions of Rand)


2016 Spending

2016 Growth (%)

2017 Spending

2017 Growth (%)

2018 Spending

2018 Growth (%)

Fixed Data Consumer Internet/Broadband







Fixed Data Enterprise (Access and Core Network)







Fixed Voice







Total Fixed







Mobile Data (Mobile Data Only and Mobile Phone Data)







Mobile Phone Voice







Total Mobile







Overall Spending







Source: Gartner (August 2017)

South African Providers Must Branch Into Adjacent Areas

South African providers achieved good growth overall in 2017, following some tough years, including a particularly difficult 2015. They achieved overall revenue growth, although growth in the average revenue per user slowed, due to new cheaper devices coming onto the market and legacy offerings encountering fierce competition. "It's vital that these providers move into adjacent areas that can produce synergies with existing access services. This will enable them to climb the value chain by offering related support, consulting, digital media content and more, either through direct acquisitions or partnerships. The connected-home, smart-city and automotive sectors are expected to exhibit solid growth, but not every provider will be well-suited to them," said Mr. Hahn.

Gartner clients can learn more in "Forecast:CommunicationsServices, Worldwide, 2014-2021, 2Q17 Update."

Gartner Symposium/ITxpo

Additional analysis of the disruptive trends and market pressures that local and global communications service providers face will be provided during Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2017, September 18-21 in Cape Town, South Africa. Follow news and updates from the event on Twitter using #GartnerSYM.

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