Operators in the internet service provisioning segment are recording an increase in inactive subscribers
From a total of 293,787 connected customers, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the country currently has 167,091 active customers, New Telegraph has learnt. This showed that 126, 656 subscribers for the service have become inactive or have opted for alternative services.
According to an industry data released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), 39 ISPs accounted for the total active customers. The ISPs subscription figure is in sharp contrast with that of the four mobile network operators (MNOs) whose active internet subscribers stood at 146.7 million as of July this year.
While NCC’s database showed that there are currently a total of 135 licensed ISPs in the country, only 39 of them have a significant number of customers. Industry analysts attributed the increase in MNO’s internet subscriptions and the decline in ISPs to factors of price and target customers.
According to them, while a mobile subscriber can access the internet with just N100, such is not available on the ISPs service, which is targeted mainly at corporate organisations, who pay heavy charges for monthly or yearly subscriptions.
Before now, the ISPs had complained about serious pressures from the MNOs who are regarded as the big players but are also playing in the ISP space as their Universal Access Service Licence (UASL) also permits them to do so.
The intense competition coupled with other operational challenges such as increasing capital and operational expenditure have been cited as the bane of the ISPs in the country.
From the NCC’s data, which showed the position of the ISP business as of March this year, Spectranet emerged as the leader in the ISP business as it had the largest share of subscribers among the 39 ISPs whose data were made available.
Out of the 167,091 active subscriptions across the networks, 135,725 of them are Spectranet customers, thus accounting for 81 per cent of the total active customers.
Tizeti came second with 11,195 customers, followed by ipNX which had 7,567 active subscribers. Other active ISPS in the country include Cobranet with 3,189 active customers, VDT Limited with 1,731 active customers, Vodacom 1424, Hyperia 1,460, and MainOne with 1,099 active customers.
Meanwhile, NCC’s data showed that 23 new firms acquired ISP operating license between January and September this year. This came amidst challenges that have seen many operators exited the business in the last few years. According to the commission, the new licensees brought the total number of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the country to 135.
Aside from the mobile network operators, the ISPs play critical roles in providing lastmile connectivity to people across cities, rural communities, and underserved communities and are key to achieving the country’s target of deepening broadband penetration.
However, there had been a slide in the number of active ISPs present in the market, and the scope of services they offer, a situation that has raised serious concerns among industry stakeholders and the regulator.
According to the NCC, the current number of service providers despite new licensees is still lower than the over 170 recorded in about 10 years ago. Last year, for instance, this paper’s checks showed that about 20 new companies were licensed as ISPs.
However, the exit of old players continues to take a toll on the number of active service providers.