File image: Vodacom. IOL.
JOHANNESBURG - Vodacom Group is working out the financial impact of the end user and subscriber service charter regulations, chief executive Shameel Joosub said yesterday.

In a move that shields consumers from high cost of data and high out-of-bundles data rates, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa last month published the regulations. In terms of the regulations, data network operators would be required to give subscribers the option to roll over unused data to the next month.

The regulations will have financial implications for data network operators which have seen significant increases in data revenue.

Speaking after the release of the company’s annual results, Joosub said it was still too early to determine the extent of the regulations’ impact on the company’s financial performance. But he said the regulations would “definitely” have an impact. “It is still early days,” he said. The regulations were fair and balanced. The data usage rules would be beneficial to consumers, he said.

Vodacom last year made representations in respect of the regulations. In its submission, Vodacom said that, while it was technically capable of sending notifications to customers, the content of the notification as well as the “percentage depletion” notification should not be prescribed.

Joosub also weighed in on the allocation of fifth generation (5G) spectrum. He said further delays in the allocation could see South African fall behind the rest of the world.

In addition to the displeasure about 5G, Vodacom has also voiced concerns about the draft Electronic Communications Amendment Bill, which he yesterday said heightened investor uncertainty and could stifle investment in the sector.

Joosub said in order to continue with annual multi-billion rand capital investments, telecoms companies needed clarity on spectrum. Without investments, jobs in the sector were in jeopardy, he said.

In its response to the bill in March, Vodacom was concerned about the establishment of an entity called Wholesale Open Access Network (Woan), which would be assigned a substantial amount of unassigned spectrum. According to Vodacom, Woan was likely to dominate the market and reduce the incentive of other players in the sector to invest. Vodacom also questioned the constitutionality of the bill.

In the year ended March 31, Vodacom’s revenue grew 6.3percent to R86.4billion. South African revenue, on the other hand, grew to 8.1percent mainly on the back of strong device sales. Net profit increased 18.6percent to R15.6bn. Headline earnings per share remained unchanged at 923cents per share. Shares issued to acquire the Safaricom stake affected the earnings.

Vodacom announced a final dividend of 425c per share, down from 435c last year. For the year, total dividend was 815c per share, down from last year’s 830c.

It said it had added 7 million customers during the year and 4.5million of these were in South Africa and 2.5million in its international operations. Kenyan telecoms operator Safaricom, in which Vodacom has a 35percent interest, added 1.4million customers.

“Our sustained investment in customer and network experience across our operations was a major factor in attracting the additional 4.5million customers in South Africa and 2.5million internationally,” said Joosub.

Vodacom shares on the JSE yesterday closed 2.57percent lower at R152.96 a share.

- BUSINESS REPORT