.Internet users inch close to 150m
By Victor Akindele
Active subscriptions for mobile telecommunications service in Nigeria has now surpassed the country’s 200 million estimated population, data released by the Nigerian Communications Commission has revealed. According to the Commission, subscriptions over the mobile networks of MTN, Globacom, Airtel, and 9mobile stood at 203 million as of August this year.
Industry analysts are of the view that while the number of unique subscribers in the country is yet to be ascertained, the prevalence of multiple subscriptions per person pushed the subscriptions figure above the country’s estimated population, even as many Nigerians are yet to own a mobile phone. From the August statistics, the country’s teledensity, which measures the number of active telephone connections per 100 inhabitants living within an area, now stood at 106.62 per cent.
According to the industry statistics, the telcos activated a total of 4.2 million within August, which shored up their subscription database from 198.9 million recorded in the previous month. The NCC’s report showed that MTN remained the largest mobile operator by the number of subscriptions in the country. In the month under review, the telco activated 2.7 million new lines, which brought its total active subscriptions to 83 million. Airtel, which is the second-largest garnered 1.06 million new subscriptions in the month to have a total of 54.7 million in its database. Globacom also activated 192, 327 new lines, bringing its total subscriptions to 52.9 million.
9mobile, which had consistently lost customers in the past months recovered some in August as gained 214,282 subscriptions in the month. This brought its total subscriptions to 12.3 million from 12.1 million it recorded in July.
Internet subscription rises too
Meanwhile, the total number of Nigerians connected to the internet across mobile, fixed wired and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) also rose significantly in August to hit 149.7 million. According to the NCC’s report, the telecommunications operators added 2.6 million new internet customers in the month.
While the data subscriptions had been on a steady increase in the last one year as the telcos aggressively push for the deployment of 4G infrastructure, the current COVID-19 pandemic has forced many Nigerians to depend heavily on the internet for several needs.
According to the NCC’s data, the mobile networks, MTN, Globacom, Airtel and 9mobile remained the preferred choice of connectivity by many Nigerians as the mobile network operators accounted for 99.7 per cent of the internet subscriptions. While mobile internet subscriptions as of August stood at 149.3 million, subscriptions over fixed wired and VoIP stood at 433,267.
The report showed that MTN added 1.6 million new internet customers in the month. The telco, which had the largest subscriber both for voice and internet recorded a total of 63.8 million internet customers as of August this year. Airtel also came second in terms of internet customers as it added 738,462 new subscriptions, which brought its customer base to 39.7 million.
Globacom added 231,341 new internet subscriptions in the month, which brought the telco’s total internet customers to 38.5 million. 9mobile maintained the fourth position as it gained 32,621 internet subscriptions in the month to record a total of 7.1 million.
While data subscription currently plays second fiddle to voice in terms of revenue for the telcos, it is gradually becoming the main source of income as voice declines. For instance, MTN, in its Q1 2020 financial result disclosed that it recorded a sharp increase in data revenue, while voice revenue only increased marginally. The telco’s data revenue jumped by 59.2 per cent to N74 billion in Q1 2020, while voice revenue only grew by 7.4 per cent in the same quarter.
The rapid increase in data users as opposed to voice may not also be unconnected with the proliferation of Over the Top Services (OTTs) such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Wechat, IMO, among others, through which subscribers can also make voice and video calls using their data subscriptions.