Nigerians spend N25.4bn on SMS in one year


Amidst concerns over OTT incursions, telecom operators are still generating revenue from short message service (SMS)


Samson Akintaro Despite the threat of Over the Top (OTT) services, Whatsapp, Facebook, etc, mobile network operators in the country realised approximately N25.4 billion from short message service (SMS) in 2019, New Telegraph has learnt. This indicates that Nigerians still pay for text messages amidst the availability of different data-based free messaging platforms.


Full-year 2019 industry data released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) showed that the telcos recorded a total of 6.4 billion outgoing SMS within the 12-month period. Based on the fixed cost of N4 per SMS, the operators had realised N25.4 billion from the service in the period under review.


The MNOs have, over the years, been complaining that the operation of OTTs in the country has been eroding their revenue from text messages. However, according to NCC, the 6.4 billion SMS were only those sent within the country (local) as the operators also recorded 56.2 million outgoing international SMS.


This indicated that the operators also realised significant revenue from messages sent to receivers outside the country as the costs are higher than that of local SMS. Analysis of the data showed that MTN recorded the largest number of SMS sent locally within the year with 3.6 billion SMS sent over its network. Globacom came second with 1.2 billion while Airtel recorded 1.1 billion.


Subscribers on 9mobile network sent 385 million SMS while Smile recorded 29.6 million. Ntel recorded the least SMS as its subscribers sent 4.2 million within the period. Record of international SMS showed that MTN also led the pack as its subscribers sent 31.3 million.


Airtel’s international SMS stood at 10.4 million, while Globacom recorded 5.4 million. 9mobile’s subscribers sent 3.9 million to networks out of the country as Smile and Ntel recorded 348,016 and 106,541 respectively. Industry analysts noted that while the rate at which telecoms subscribers use SMS might have reduced due to the embrace of OTTs, its use cannot be completely taken over by the free messaging platforms.


According to them, some messages, especially for formal communications are best sent via SMS, hence, it may never be out of use by subscribers. As technological innovations evolve, new means of communication have kept budding, leading to the emergence of the OTTs.


This has seen a change in the consumption pattern of telecom consumers as many now prefer communicating via Skype, Facebook, or Whatsapp to making calls or sending text messages.


Incidentally, all these OTT services ride on the telcos’ networks, but the operators said they make little or no returns from the OTTs as they would in voice calls and SMS. As a result, telecom companies, not only in Nigeria but also across the globe, have been complaining bitterly over dwindling revenues.


Meanwhile, the NCC’s data also revealed that a total of 149.6 billion outgoing national calls were recorded across the networks in 2019, while to-tal incoming calls were 137.4 billion.


According to the report, MTN also recorded the highest total outgoing and incoming traffic of 97.3 billion and 98.8 billion respectively in the period under review. Airtel recorded 32.8 billion outgoing calls and 32.9 billion incoming calls, while Globacom’s calls record stood at 14.4 billion and 29.4 billion for outgoing and incoming respectively. 9mobile recorded 3.9 billion outgoing and 5.6 billion incoming calls while Ntel had 850.9 million outgoing and 69.9 million incoming calls.


Smile recorded 276.6 million outgoing and 37.8 million incoming calls on its network. Meanwhile, NCC in the report described 2019 as an eventful year with a significant increase in mobile penetration.


According to the telecoms regulator, “the industry witnessed substantial improvement in the quality of service and network coverage across the country. Infrastructural deployment and upgrade were commendably improved, as most MNOs embraced massive investments in 4G networks and rollout of services, which culminated in improved consumer satisfaction and increase in revenue streams


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