Vodacom, a mobile operator in South Africa, has received the TelecomLead.com Innovation Leaders 2019 award for offering free internet essentials to more than 25 million mobile phone users who do not have enough credit in their plans.
Vodacom subscribers that have run out of data are automatically redirected to the Zero-D portal, where they can access essential internet services. Essential Internet services currently include web search, local and international news as well as weather reports. The portal gives the option of digitally topping up their service for increased voice or data.
The free Internet offer assumes significance because average workers need to spend huge money on recharging their costly mobile Internet packages.
Vodacom can increase their customer satisfaction and reduce churn in markets. Vodacom had 43.8 million mobile phone customers in South Africa including 38.2 million pre-paid and 5.6 million post-paid customers. Vodacom subscribers declined by 251,000 from September 2018 to the end of the year, losing 337,000 pre-paid customers over the period and adding 86,000 post-paid users.
Upstream is assisting Vodacom for leading the project. Upstream’s Zero-D connectivity platform is powering the free internet service from Vodacom. The telecom operator has observed that nearly 55 percent of its phone subscriber base is already engaging with the portal branded Vodacom Flex. Users are averaging sessions of nearly six minutes as they use the free digital content available in the platform.
Vodacom South Africa’s service revenue grew 2.1 percent in the first quarter of 2019. But revenues declined in H2 as customers optimised their bundle spend amid macroeconomic pressures and as national roaming revenues declined due to a transition between different partners.
Data revenue grew 3.9 percent for the year and by 1.6 percent in Q4. Vodacom South Africa added 2.1 million pre-paid customers in the year, taking total pre-paid customer base to 46.8 million. It also added 475,000 contract customers.