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The market is dominated by Vodacom (which has 10 million users) and MTN (which claims 5,22 million). In 2001 a third licence was awarded to Cell C, which had about three million subscribers in May 2004.
"Prepaid" customers - those who pay for their airtime in advance - make up more than 90 percent of all new business. Most of the more than 9 000 people who sign up every day pick this option.
South Africans are also a nation of SMS senders. Vodacom transmitted two billion SMSs between March 2003 and March 2004, which was up 33,3 percent from 2003.
Cellphone usage has reached areas where no fixed line service has been available. Vodacom reports that 35 million calls are made each month from its network of over two thousand phone shops installed in poorer areas.