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Mobility Drives Nigeria’s Data Penetration

Posted: Sep 17, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Stories by Emmanuel Okwuke,


Nigeria’s mobile Internet ecosystem has recorded impressive growth in the last few months as mobile data subscriptions in the country increased to more than 93 million at the end of July 2015.

In its Monthly Internet Subscriber Data released on its web site at the weekend the industry regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said that the number of Internet users on the country’s telecom networks increased substantially.

The data revealed that internet user on both the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) and the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) networks increased to about 93, 551,811 in July.

Also, the data shows that the number of subscribers that surf the Internet in June was put at 92,816,572 but increased to 93,551,811 in the month of July.  The data further shows that of the 93,551,811 Internet users in July, 93,403,147 were on GSM networks, while 148,664 users were on the CDMA.

In addition, of the 93,403,147 Internet users on the GSM networks in the month under review, MTN Nigeria had 41,101,886 customers assessing the Internet on its network.

It stated that MTN had an increase of 616,216 Internet subscribers in July after it recorded 40,485,670 users in the month of June.

According to the report, Globacom had 19,330,549 subscribers surfing the net in July.

Airtel Nigeria, it said, had 17,605,852 Internet users in the month of July, as against 17,598,626 customers recorded in June.

Internet users on the Airtel Nigeria network increased by 7,226 in July, while Etisalat had 15,393,860 internet users in July, against the 15,285,079 in June.

Those browsing on Etisalat’s network also rose by 108,781 in the month of July.

CDMA’s Below Average Performance

The NCC also revealed that the CDMA operators (Multi-Links and Visafone), had a joint total of 148,664 internet users on their networks in July.

It showed that the only surviving two CDMA networks in the country listed an increase of 33,016 Internet subscribers in the month under review, from the 115,648 users they recorded in June.

Visafone had an increase of 32,980 customers surfing the Internet in July, rising to 148,461, compared to the 115,481 users in June.

Multi-Links had 203 Internet users in July, adding 38 customers from the June record of 165 users.

It explained that the increase in the use of the Internet in the month of July showed that more Nigerians were embracing Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

NCC noted that the country was making progress towards achieving 30 percent broadband penetrations by 2018.

2015 Data Far Above Last Year’s Figures

The increase, according to analysis, thus represents an impressive growth of 13.6 per cent far above what was recorded in the first half of last year.

Last year, mobile Internet subscriptions increased marginally from 64 million in January to 67.1 million at the end of June, representing a growth of 4.8 per cent.

GSM Operators As Dominant Players

Over the six months period, each of the GSM operators accumulated additional mobile Internet subscribers on their networks.

It could be recalled that for the month of June, Nigeria’s fourth largest telecoms operator, Etisalat with about 22 million subscribers on its network, recorded the highest number of additional mobile Internet subscriptions during the period.

According to the NCC data, Etisalat increased the mobile data subscriptions from 10 million in January to 15.2 million at the end of June, representing an increase of 5.2 million new data users during the period, which represents 52 per cent increase.

Airtel came second by increasing its mobile Internet users from 14.9 in January to 17.5 million in June, representing 17.4 per cent growth in the period under review.

Globacom came third in terms of the number of additional mobile Internet users recorded during the period as the indigenous telecoms firm increased its figure from 17.6 in January to 19.3 in June, representing additional 2.2 million users and 12.5 per cent growth.

Though MTN remains the market leader, it recorded the lowest number of additional mobile Internet users on its network.

According to the data, from 39.1 million mobile Internet subscriptions in January, MTN increased to 40.4 million, representing additional 1.3 million users. This represents a half-year growth of 3.3 per cent.

However, in terms of monthly share, MTN continues to be the leader. Analysis of the official data in June showed that of the 92.6 million mobile Internet users on all the mobile networks, MTN controls 40.4 million; Globacom, 19. 3 million followed by Airtel with 17.5 million while Etisalat has 15.2 million on its network.

Mobility, key In Today’s Telecoms

It was gathered that increase in the uptake of smartphones and other low-cost phones that can be used to access the Internet have continued to drive mobile Internet penetration in the country.

“Mobility is key in today’s telecom world. We have noted that more and more people prefer to use their mobile devices such as smartphones to carry out Internet-driven activities that otherwise could have been done on their desktops,” says Chief Executive Officer of Jumia Nigeria, Jeremy Doutte, at a forum, organised recently in Lagos.

Underscoring the uptake in the use of mobile Internet subscriptions in the country, Doutte, said: “More than 70 per cent of people who come to our e-commerce site to shop do so from their smartphones. We believed this is being driven by mobility, which is a key factor in technology today”.

On his part, the Chief Executive Officer of MTN Nigeria, Mr. Michael Ikpoki, said that in spite the increase in mobile Internet subscriptions, there still remains a gap to be filled by the operators.

“There is still about 68 per cent of Nigerian population not yet connected to the Internet,” he said.

However, the number of people with access to true broadband or high-speed Internet service is still low when compared with countries as Kenya and South Africa.

Increased Access To Smartphones

On his part, Senior Manager, Transmission Access Planning, Network Group at MTN Nigeria, Mr. Olusegun Salami, said at another forum in Lagos, that for government to achieve its desired goals in mobile Internet penetration, easily assessable smartphones must be made available to a larger section of the population.  “Feature phones still account for 40 per cent of the market, desktops 30 per cent and smartphones account for mere 25 per cent “

“As we work towards increased broadband penetration, we must adopt measures that would make it possible for 90 per cent radio (communication) penetration in rural areas,” he suggested.

He said that Long Term Evolution (LTE) services would help expand broadband scope to hinterlands when Federal Government makes deliberate policies to aid operators channel their services to such terrains.

ATCON Wants Challenges Addressed

President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Mr. Lanre Ajayi, said unless issues on right of way (RoW), multiple taxation, security, indiscriminate ?shut down of Base Transceiver Stations (BTS); and others, are addressed, achieving desired internet penetration would be very difficult.

He said it would be wise if government at all levels remove these bottlenecks that inhibit broadband deployment across the country.