MTN Group’s recent decision to reclassify what it defines as an ‘active’ mobile subscriber resulted in the removal of more than 2.9 million subscribers from its Ghanaian user base in March 2017. The cellco counted 19.70 million mobile subscribers in February 2017 – prior to the reclassification – and 16.79 million active subscriptions at 31 March in the wake of the move, Ghanaweb reports. According to the National Communications Authority (NCA’s) 90-day voice subscription reporting for 30 April 2017, MTN Ghana’s base had recovered by a net 180,000 active users in a month to 16.97 million – a market share of 47.16%.
Cynthia Lumor, Corporate Services Executive of MTN Ghana, explained that the parent company has redefined an active subscriber to ‘exclude numbers that only subscribe to value added services (VAS) but could not be billed because for months there is no airtime on those numbers to allow billing’. She confirmed that the mobile numbers in question had failed to generate revenues for the cellco for ‘many months’, but remained on the network and were counted as active subscriptions because ‘initially we were billing them for the VAS subscription on them’. She went on to note: ‘But over time the billing for the VAS subscriptions has been 0.00 consistently so per our new definition of who a revenue-generating subscriber is, we have had to remove those numbers from our network and start the process of reassigning the numbers.’ As such, the significant drop in MTN Ghana’s subscriber base is not because subscribers left the network, but rather because MTN Group has ‘streamlined the parameters on who active subscribers are’.
‘The standard rule is that if a number remains inactive for up to five months without generating any revenue either by making or receiving calls, using data or VAS that number would automatically be churned and reassigned,’ Ms Lumor said.