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Vodacom Q1 revenue up 4.3%

Group active customers grew 15.6% to 59.6m

Vodacom, the wireless operator with the most subscribers in South Africa, said first- quarter revenue increased 4.3% as customers used more data outside its domestic market.

Sales rose to R18.3 billion in the three months through June, the Johannesburg-based company said in a statement today. Data revenue soared 23% to R3.6 billion as active customers for the service increased 37% to 25.3 million.

“Data and the international businesses have once again been the largest contributors to growth, and the entire business is seeing the benefit of our sustained investment program,” Chief Executive Officer Shameel Joosub said in the statement.

Vodacom, which is 65% owned by Vodafone, is expanding its Internet and data services while adding small- to-medium sized business customers to offset declining voice sales from its home market, which is being squeezed by cuts in the rates it can charge for ending calls on its network.

Vodacom shares increased 1% to R127.35 as of 10:03 a.m. in Johannesburg. The stock has declined 4.3% this year, compared with a 2.6% gain for its biggest competitor, MTN.

South Africa sales advanced 2% to R14.8 billion in the quarter even as a cut to mobile termination rates reduced incoming voice revenue by 44%. Vodacom is seeking approval from the country’s communications regulator to acquire Internet provider Neotel. as it attempts to expand its fiber network.

International mobile data revenue increased 51% to R636 million as the company added customers in Tanzania, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Lesotho.

The phone company’s active customers increased 16% to 59.6 million.

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