By Emma Okonji
The number of mobile internet subscribers in Nigeria, including subscribers to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), dropped in two consecutive months – December 2020 and January 2021 – according to a recent statistics released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
According to the report posted on the NCC website, in November 2020, the total number of mobile internet subscribers was 154 million, but dropped to 153 million in December 2020, and dropped further to 150 million in January 2021.
The drop also affected VoIP subscribers, which recorded 429,121 subscribers in November 2020, and 415,941 in December 2020, before it further dropped to 387,169 in January 2021.
Although the statistics highlighted a drop in mobile internet and VoIP subscriptions, it however showed an increase in fixed wired internet subscriptions within the same period.
In November 2020, Nigeria recorded 11,459 fixed wired internet subscribers, but the figure increased to 11,468 in December 2020 and a further increase to 11,545 in January 2021, bringing the total number of internet subscribers in the country, both fixed and mobile, to 151 million as at January 2021, according to NCC statistics.
The NCC statistics also showed a drop in broadband subscriptions and penetration in two consecutive months in December 2020 and January 2021.
According to the statistics, as at November 2020, broadband subscription was 86 million, with a penetration rate of 45.07 per cent, but the subscription dropped in December 2020 to 85 million with a penetration rate of 45.02 per cent, with a further drop in broadband subscription in January 2021 to 81 million with a penetration rate of 42.93 per cent.
Despite the drop in broadband subscriptions and penetration in the months of December 2020 and January 2021, as captured by the NCC’s statistics, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, last week, told Nigerians during a presentation in Abuja, that the county has achieved tremendous milestone in broadband penetration, given the figure of broadband penetration that was less than 6 per cent penetration when he was appointed the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC in 2015. “From 2015 to 2020, broadband penetration moved from less than 6 per cent to 45.07 per cent, because of the regulatory measures put in place by the NCC. Today, the projection of broadband penetration is 70 per cent by 2025, and I am optimistic that Nigeria will meet and surpass 70 per cent broadband penetration by 2025,” Danbatta said.
The statistics also gave the figures of active telecoms subscribers, which also dropped in the months of December 2020 and January 2021. According to the statistics, in November 2020, the total number of active telecoms subscribers was 207 million, with a teledensity of 108.92 per cent, but it dropped in December 2020 to 204 million with a teledensity of 107.14 per cent, and a further drop in January 2021 to 200 million with a teledensity of 104.89 per cent
Some analysts who spoke to THISDAY, attributed the drop in mobile internet subscriptions, Voice over Internet Protocol, broadband subscriptions and active subscriber numbers, to the adverse effect of COVID-19 pandemic, which they said, grounded economies, which led to loss of jobs. They were however optimistic that the figures would pick up again as Nigeria and the rest of the world get over the pandemic.
Telecoms subscriptions and mobile internet had over the years, increased in numbers, which were attributed to low priced mobile phone devices in the market, coupled with the gradual drop in the cost mobile data offered by telecoms operators and internet service providers.