Active Internet Subscribers on Four GSM Networks Hit 93.554m in September, Says NCC

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Telecoms masts

Kunle Aderinokun

The number of active subscribers for data or internet services across the four major GSM network operators, namely, Airtel, Etisalat, Globacom and MTN, totalled 93.554 million in September, said the National Communications Commission (NCC).

According to the latest Internet Subscriber Data obtained by THISDAY, this represented an increase of about 30,000 over 93.524 million subscribers of the previous month. While the number significantly dropped by 3.536 million customers from 97.060 million it achieved in the corresponding month in 2015, when compared with 95.794 million active subscribers for data on the networks as at January this year, it translated to a fall by 2.24 million customers.

A breakdown of the internet subscription revealed that 18.832 million subscribers were active on data on the Airtel network in September and 15.062 million customers subscribed for data on the Etisalat network while for Globacom and MTN, 26.887 million customers and 32.771 million customers subscribed to data on the respective networks.

Even though there was no addition to the number of customers, who were active subscribers to data on the MTN network in September, Airtel had 313,000 added to its number of active data subscribers when compared to the level in August. The remaining two telecoms operators, Etisalat and Globacom, however, experienced reduction in the active data subscribers in the review month, declining by 186,000 customers and 97,000 customers in comparison with the previous month when they recorded 15.248 million active data subscribers and 26.887 million active data subscribers, respectively.

Also, NCC disclosed that the four major networks experienced inward porting from a total of 17,776 customers in September, representing a drop of 2,223 customers from 20,119 of the previous month.

Out of the four networks, Etisalat gained inward porting of 13,365 customers in the review month, while Airtel received 1,475 customers; Globacom, 1,187 customers and MTN, 1,745 customers.

In their analysis of the NCC Internet Subscriber Data, FBN Quest, an investment banking and research arm of First Bank Limited, noted: “The latest data released by the NCC, the industry regulator, show that internet subscriptions stood at 93.6 million in September, representing a y/y contraction of -3.6 per cent. The figure implies density of 51 per cent in a population estimated at 185 million, placing Nigeria well above the African average of around 16 per cent as estimated by McKinsey. MTN emerged again as the leader, with 35 per cent market share while Globacom and Airtel accounted for 29 per cent and 20 per cent, respectively.”

According to the firm, “ A recent survey carried out by DigitXplus, a digital media consultancy firm, revealed that China has the highest number of internet users with 632 million subscribers while the US comes in second place with 269 million. Internet subscriptions in India, Japan, Brazil and Russia are 198 million, 110 million, 105 million and 87 million respectively.

Recalling that, “earlier this year, the industry’s regulator auctioned 14 slots of the 2.6 GHz spectrum,” FBN Quest said it gathered that “the commission is now gearing up to commence the licensing of broadband services on the 5.4 GHz spectrum.”

This, it believes, is expected to “assist with achieving the FGN’s broadband penetration target of 30 per cent by 2018. Broadband penetration is currently 21 per cent.”

As for the porting data, FBN Quest pointed out that, it showed “MTN accounted for the largest (44 per cent) customer losses while Etisalat gained 13,365, representing 75 per cent of total incoming porting data in September.

FBN Quest stated: “Based on the recent GDP data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in Q2 2016 the telecommunications sector contracted by -11.6 per cent y/y compared with a growth of 9.4 per cent y/y in the corresponding period in 2015.” Acknowledging that, “there is a visible slowdown on a y/y basis in internet subscriptions”, it believed, “going forward we expect to see further investments within the sector due to opportunities in the data segment.”