Business

Nigeria’s internet penetration rises to 141.2m

Mobile subscriptions hit 192m

The total number of Nigerians connected to the internet across mobile, fixed wired and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) rose significantly in May to hit 141.2 million. According to the latest industry statistics released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the telecommunications operators added 2.4 million new internet customers in the month. While the data subscriptions had been on a steady increase in the last one year as the telcos aggressively push for the deployment of 4G infrastructure, the current COVID-19 crisis has forced many Nigerians to depend heavily on the internet for several needs.

Hence, the mobile internet subscription figure is anticipated to skyrocket in the coming months. According to the NCC’s data, the mobile networks, MTN, Globacom, Airtel and 9mobile remain the preferred choice of connectivity by many Nigerians as the mobile network operators accounted for 99.7 per cent of the internet subscriptions.

While mobile internet subscriptions as of May stood at 140.8 million, subscriptions over fixed wired and VoIP stood at 396,504. MTN Nigeria, which is the largest network operator by subscriber number, added 882,458 new internet customers in the month.

The telco, which had the largest subscriber both for voice and internet had a total of 58.9 million internet customers as of May this year. Airtel Nigeria came second in terms of internet customers as it added 448, 504 new subscriptions, which brought its customer base to 37.3 million. Globacom, though the third in terms of the number of internet customers, emerged as the biggest gainer for the month as it added 1.3 million new internet subscriptions in the month. This brought the number of the telco’s total internet customers to 37.2 million However, 9mobile maintained its fourth position with a further decline in the number of its internet customers.

The telco lost 204,595 data customers in May, which reduced its total subscription number to 7.3 million. While data subscription currently plays second fiddle to voice in terms of revenue for the telcos, it is gradually becoming the main source of income as voice declines. For instance, MTN, which recently released its Q1 2020 financial result disclosed that it recorded a sharp increase in data revenue, while voice revenue only increased marginally. The telco’s data revenue jumped by 59.2 per cent to N74 billion in Q1 2020, while voice revenue only grew by 7.4 per cent in the same quarter.

The rapid increase in data users as opposed to voice may not also be unconnected with the proliferation of Over the Top Services (OTTs) such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Wechat, IMO, among others, through which subscribers can also make voice and video calls using their data subscriptions. Meanwhile, the total number of mobile subscriptions (voice) in the country inched closer to 200 million in May. According to NCC’s statistics, subscriptions across the four mobile networks rose to 191.9 million in May. With that, the country’s teledensity, which measures the number of active telephone connections per 100 inhabitants living within an area, also increased to 100.72 per cent. The teledensity is calculated based on a population estimate of 190 million. The operators activated 1.5 million new lines in May, which raised the number of active mobile users from 190.4 million recorded in April to 191.9 million in May. The gains of new subscriptions were recorded by the trio of MTN, Globacom, and Airtel, while 9mobile recorded a marginal decline in active subscriptions for the month.

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