…penetration down to 45.02%
For the second consecutive month, broadband penetration in Nigeria declined in December 2020 as more Nigerians slipped out of fast-speed internet users. According to the data released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), broadband subscriptions dipped by 89,940 in the month.
This was despite the country’s ongoing efforts to achieve increase broadband access to reach 70 per cent of the population by 2025. In December, the number of broadband subscriptions stood at 85.9 million, compared with 86 million in the preceding month while the penetration level went down to 45.02 per cent from 45.07 per cent recorded in the preceding month.
Earlier in November 2020, broadband penetration had also declined by 1.6 million, breaking 10 months of consistent monthly growth.
Between January and October 2020, broadband connectivity in the country had increased by 15.5 million. On average, the country had been recording a one per cent increase each month, as the mobile network operators continued to push for deployment of 4G service across the country. Industry analysts said the decline may not be unconnected with the recent government’s policy on SIM.
According to them, many subscribers have not been able to replace or swap their damaged or missing SIMs since the ban on SIM registration or activation, which took effect on December 9, 2020.
Although the government had recently adjusted its directive by allowing the operators to do SIM replacement for subscribers who lost or misplaced their lines upon presentation and verification of their National Identity Number (NIN), findings revealed that most of the subscribers who could have benefited from this window do not have the NIN yet.
The policy is also preventing the operators from activating new SIMs, which could have bolstered the broadband subscription database.
This also reflected on the country’s overall active mo-bile subscriptions for the month. According to NCC’s data, active subscriptions across the four GSM networks of MTN, Globacom, Airtel, and 9mobile fell from 207.5 million in November 2020 to 204.2 million in December.
With this, the country’s teledensity, which measures the number of active telephone connections per 100 inhabitants living within an area, also declined from 108.92 per cent in November to 107.18 to per cent in December.
This is calculated based on an estimated 190 million population of the country. Similarly, the totality of internet connections across the mobile networks also declined by 563,837.
The operators’ internet subscriptions database shrank from 154.4 million to 153.9 million in December. Recall that the Federal Government had early last 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 from the 70 per cent penetration target, the 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 the 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.”