Nigeria’s teleco companies lose 25,037 users as Internet subscription falls by 0.58 per cent

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Despite the on-going fierce data price war, which has crashed prices of megabytes in the country, operators lost about 725,037 Internet subscribers between October and November 2019, according to the latest statistics released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

The statistics, which were released yesterday, showed that subscriptions to the Internet, which was 123,669,596 in October, fell by 0.58 per cent to 122,834,559 in November.

The same lot befell the broadband sub-sector as operators lost 307,452 users, down from 72.2 million in October to 71.9 million within the period.

The NCC statistics showed that GSM operators, the quartet of MTN, Globacom, Airtel, and 9Mobile lost 716, 846 subscribers, while Fixed Wired and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers lost 8,191 users in the period.

While data subscriptions fell in the period under review, voice subscriptions, however, increased. Specifically, operators added new 2.7 million users in one month. The number of users increased from 180.3 million in October to 182.7 million in November. This increase also impacted the country’s teledensity, which leaped by 1.21 per cent. It rose from 94.5 per cent to 95.71 per cent.

Further analysis of the statistics showed that MTN remains the market leader with 67.3 million users and 36.9 per cent market share. The South African firm is followed by Globacom, which had 51.1 million subscribers and controlled 28 per cent of the market.

Airtel, which recently launched its television app, is third in the market with 27.2 per cent market share and 49.6 million users. 9Mobile, formerly Etisalat, remains the fourth largest operator with 14.2 million customers and 7.7 per cent market share.

In a chat with The Guardian yesterday, the President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Olusola Teniola, attributed the drop in the number of users to seasonal adjustments. This was created by the price of data versus the data bundles sold by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) with voice included compensating for subscribers with smartphones using OTT apps as the first choice for making voice calls.

He said the bundled voice and data packages provide an alternative to data only purchased, “hence more subscriptions evidenced for voice during the period.”

Teniola had earlier called on operators to stop data price war and urged them to instead invest in innovative solutions for the benefit of the over 175 million subscribers.

“Learn lessons from India’s data price wars and avoid the destruction of shareholder value,” Teniola charged operators.

The Chief Executive Officer of Spectranet, Ajay Awasthi, said the war of any kind is destructive by nature, and a price war is no exception.

Awashti, who called for a review of the suspended Data Price Floor policy, described price war as a short-sighted ploy to gain market share. “It may be touted as a ‘customer friendly’ move. But over a period of time, a price war results in significant destruction of value for the industry, forcing the players to degrade the quality of services. A price war is not sustainable in the longer term and a lose-lose proposition for both the operators and the customers,” he said.

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