Financial reporting months in the telecommunication sector is always interesting, as media we get to observe the state of affairs in the industry by going through the numbers the various telco’s publish, and especially on user subscriptions. The movements (subscribers) allow us to understand the psyche behind migration and how consumers react to price changes and affiliation to a certain operator. Maxis and Celcom have shared their FY 2018 results, while both recorded good revenue performance the incumbents did see a drop in user base, cause for concern? Again we scour through the numbers to find if there is more than meets the eye.
Celcom reported a drop of nearly half a million prepaid subscribers mainly in the prepaid segment, the consistent erosion over the years have led the telco to drop to number three position in the 140% mobile penetration country with 9.076 million subscribers behind Digi and Maxis. Alarmingly the figure has been sliding since 2013, from 13 million to its current position. Many reasons has been attributed to this, Michael Kuehner the ex-Chief Operating Officer for Celcom Axiata when asked by PC.com during 2017 financial announcement, laid factors like perception and inertia to be the reason behind some migration. Although he was quick to point out all operators experience churn due to scrubbing. However, having taken over from Dato Sri Shazali, Kuehner set about in making personnel changes and focused on service and data insights in preparing Celcom for the future. The situation of user base erosion eased momentarily, the telco refocused and released a slew of mobile packages and plans, but it seems the boulder had already picked up pace and was not so easy to slow down.
Since his departure, the mantle has been passed over Idham Nawawi who assumes the CEO role and will have to once again navigate choppy waters and try to regain the second spot in the highly charged sector. With U Mobile hot on the heels, dropping to number 4 will be utterly unthinkable, the late entrant has already chalked 6 million as its base and will be ramping its strategy even more aggressively this year as it looks to recoup billions in 4G infrastructure costs. Challenging times ahead for the newly minted chief, having moved to the new headquarters and fresh approach in addressing the changing landscape, Celcom and Axiata will be not sitting on their laurels in the coming days. As the saying goes, never disturb a sleeping lion.