BULAWAYO, June 11 (The Source) – State-owned fixed line phone operator, TelOne says it is targeting to increase annual revenue by 140 percent to $381 million driven by growth in data income and grow its voice market share by 21 percent by 2018.
The parastatal has sought to diversify its revenue streams to compensate for falling income from voice by investing heavily in data services. It is targeting revenues of $160 million by year-end on stronger broadband performance and expects to complete its fibre project by end of the year.
In April this year, the telco rebranded and introduced a new metro wi-fi internet service which it says is 90 percent cheaper than market prices. It has also targetted to connect 20,000 households via fibre through the Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON).
TelOne Corporate Communications manager Melody Harry told The Source on Thursday that the parastatal’s business transformation strategy was geared towards providing “connectivity for everyone, everywhere by 2018.”
“(Our target is) to increase revenue from $159 million (this year) to $381 million and grow its market share from the current 16 percent to 21 percent,” said Harry.
She said revenue in the first quarter was just over $40 million but expects it to be lower at $37 million in the second quarter.
Harry added that TelOne was going into Value Added Services in a big way and a lot of work has already started and “we will be unpacking this soon”
“The company is also currently upgrading its exchanges. To date it has upgraded eight analogue exchanges namely Chipinge, Ruwa, Mazowe, Nyanga, Rusape, Plumtree, Karoi and Kariba,” she said.
“This will introduce prepaid voice which will go a long way in improving our revenue collections and reducing defaulters, value added services such conference calling and call forwarding, interactive voice response (IVR) and ADSL Broadband. These services will also enhance the quality of service and our clients’ experience.”
Harry said TelOne is owed about $161 million in unpaid phone bills and these are mainly by corporates, SMEs and households.
TelOne is currently able to collect about 87 percent of current billings, she added.
Most of its future revenue is seen coming from data hence the work to expand its backbone fibre footprint. It aims to grow its broadband market size significantly from the nearly 100,000 currently to one million subscribers.
But getting cheap funding remained a major challenge, Harry said.
“Unfriendly capital markets have limited the ability of TelOne to expedite infrastructure upgrading as per our plans,” Harry said.
“A number of projects are lined up and once funding is available TelOne will be able to expand its optic fibre footprint, upgrade the network and introduce new products and services to the market. Most of these projects have already started but not at the speed that we would want.”
Vandalism and theft of its overhead cables remained a problem, often leading to disruption of service to clients.
“We have also experienced incidents of underground cable cuts by other companies laying fibre along the same route as TelOne and this causes serious damage to our network,” she said.
“We have come up with a number of interventions to counter this and we are seeing some positive changes. Our target is to ensure very little or no down time for our clients.”