Ending 10 months of consistent growth, Nigeria recorded a decline in the number of broadband users in November 2020. This means that some subscribers slipped from 4G high-speed internet to 3G or 2G in the month under review.
According to the data released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the number of internet users in the country declined from 87.6 million in October 2020, to 86 million in November. This shows that a total of 1.6 million subscribers were off broadband service in the month. With this, the country’s penetration level also shrank from 45.93 per cent in October to 45.07 per cent in November.
Between January and October 2020, broadband connectivity in the country had increased by 15.5 million. On average, the country had been recording a one per cent increase each month, as the mobile network operators continued to push for deployment of 4G service across the country.
However, industry analysts said the November decline may be a reflection of the industry’s mood due to recent government policies on SIM. This also reflected on the country’s overall active mobile subscriptions for the month. According to NCC’s data, active subscriptions across the four GSM networks of MTN, Globacom, Airtel, and 9mobile stood at 207.5 million in November, a marginal decline from 207.6 million recorded in October.
With this, the country’s teledensity, which measures the number of active telephone connections per 100 inhabitants living within an area, also declined from 108.94 per cent to 108.92 per cent in November. Incidentally, the decline came ahead of the anticipated shrink in the operators’ subscription database as activation and registration of new SIMs has been suspended for over a month now, a development the industry is witnessing for the first time since the liberalisation of the telecommunications sector 20 years ago.
Recall that the Federal Government had early last year launched a new National Broadband Plan (NBP 2020-2025) with a target of achieving 70 per cent penetration in the next five years. This followed the expiration of the NBP 2013-2018, which delivered 31 per cent penetration as of December 2018.
Aside from the 70 per cent penetration target, the government in the new plan also raised the benchmark speed for broadband service in Nigeria to 25 megapixels per second, which is an improvement from the 1.5mbps benchmark in the 2013-2018 plan. According to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, “this new broadband plan is designed to deliver data download speeds across Nigeria, a minimum of 25Mbps in urban areas, and 10Mbps in rural areas, with effective coverage available to at least 90 per cent of the population by 2025.”