MTN Irancell recorded revenue for the year 2010 up 42 percent, significantly ahead of subscriber growth of 28 percent to a base of 29.7 million. This was largely due to the 42 percent growth in airtime and subscription revenue and the 73 percent growth in SMS revenue, which were partly offset by lower connection revenue as a result of the lower prices charged on prepaid connections. Data revenue growth was high but not yet significant as a percentage of revenue because of content limitations. Reported ARPU was stable at USD 8, although local ARPU increased marginally as a result of improved network quality. The mobile operator estimates its market share increased to 44 percent in December 2010 from 40 percent the prior year, thanks to improved network coverage and quality, attractive seasonal promotions, the continued roll-out of electronic distribution channels and improved brand perception. MTN Irancell's EBITDA margin increased by 6.2 percentage points to 41.1 percent in 2010.
This was mainly because of cost efficiencies in maintenance and transmission emanating from renegotiated supplier contracts, as well as a change in the transmission leasing strategy. A reduction in prepaid dealer commissions and tighter control of marketing costs also contributed. Capex declined to 18 percent of revenue from 44 percent in the prior year, although MTN Irancell increased its population and geographic coverage to 77 percent and 20 percent respectively. MTN forecast continued strong subscriber growth in Iran this year, with estimated subscriber additions of 3.35 million, while capex will drop slightly to ZAR 1.32 billion.