The chances of Nigeria attaining its 70 per cent broadband penetration by 2025 are getting higher as the country recorded 2.13 per cent growth in one month. Data released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for September showed that 4.06 million new broadband users were recorded in the month. This brought the country’s penetration rate to 45.43 per cent as of September. According to the NCC’s data, 86.7 million Nigerians are now on broadband service.
While the country’s broadband growth had been at an average of one per cent monthly, the September figure came as the highest monthly growth ever recorded in the country’s broadband journey. While this is indicative of more Nigerians subscribing to 4G mobile service, the mobile network operators have been credited for the increase which is coming through their aggressive push for deployment of 4G service across the country.
Recall that the Federal Government had earlier this 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 the 70 per cent penetration target, 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 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.”
Meanwhile, aside the broadband subscriptions, telecommunications operators in the country had recorded geometric growth in general data service subscriptions between January and September this year. According to NCC’s data, the four mobile network operators, MTN, Globacom, Airtel, and 9mobile had added 25.3 million internet subscriptions within nine months.
While internet subscription has been on a steady increase over the years, the number of new subscribers recorded in the nine months came as the highest to be recorded within such period.
This brought the number of active mobile internet subscriptions in the country to 151 million as of September end. Throughout last year, mobile internet subscriptions in the country increased by 14 mil-lion from 111.6 million in December 2018 to 125.7 million in December 2019. The ninemonth growth recorded so far this year has surpassed last year’s record. Further analysis of the industry data showed that MTN Nigeria, which is the largest network operator by subscriber number, added 10.2 million new internet customers in the nine months. The telco, which had the largest subscriber both for voice and internet had a total of 65.4 million internet customers as of September end. Airtel Nigeria came second in terms of internet customers as it added 5.8 million new subscriptions within the period under review, which brought its customer base to 40.3 million.
Globacom, though the third in terms of the number of internet customers, emerged as the second-largest subscriptions gainer for the nine months as it added a total of 9.9 million new internet subscriptions. This brought the number of the telco’s total internet customers to 39.1 million However, 9mobile maintained its fourth position with a further decline in the number of its internet customers. The telco lost 793,394 customers in the period, which reduced its total subscription number to 7.3 million, from 8.06 million in December 2019.