SIM suspension: Telcos lose 7.7m customers in two months

.as active subscriptions decline to 199.8m

By Victor Akindele

The suspension of SIM activation by the Federal Government continued to take huge tolls on the telecommunications operators as their customer base has been depleted by 7.7 million in two months. According to the latest industry statistics released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), in January alone, MTN, Airtel, Globacom, and 9mobile lost a total of 4.3 million subscriptions.

Earlier in December, the mobile network operators had lost 3.4 million subscriptions, as the operators have been unable to acquire new customers while losing existing subscribers to the inability to retrieve lost or damaged SIMs. According to the government, the suspension, which took effect on December 9, 2020, is to allow a proper audit of the SIM registration database to ensure that all mobile lines in the country are properly registered.

NCC’s data revealed that total active mobile subscriptions in the country plunged to 199.8 million in January from 204.1 million recorded in December 2020. The country’s teledensity, which measures the number of active telephone connections per 100 inhabitants living within an area, also declined from 107.14  per cent in December 2020,  to 104.89 per cent in January 2021.

According to the NCC’s industry data, all the operators recorded a decline in their subscriptions database in January. MTN Nigeria, which remained the largest mobile operator by the number of subscriptions in the country lost 900,301 subscriptions in the month. This saw its database declined to 79 million from 80.7 million it had in December. Airtel emerged as the biggest loser in the month as it lost a total of 2.2 million active subscriptions. This brought its total subscriptions to 53.4 million from 55.6 million it recorded in the previous month. Globacom lost 245,627, which brought its subscription database to 54.5 million. However, with the minimal loss compared to Airtel, Globacom was able to overtake Airtel in the month to become the second-largest operator.

9mobile also slipped as it shed 173,567 subscriptions in January. This brought its total subscriptions to 12.8 million from 12.9  million it recorded in December.

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