Spectranet is one of the foremost internet service providers (ISP) in Nigeria and was the first to introduce 4G LTE internet service in the country. As a result, the company controls about 50% market share and still has a lot of growth potentials. Unfortunately, Spectranet is currently faced with many problems which are now threatening its market share. Will the company be able to overcome said challenges and maintain its leadership position in the internet services sector, or will it soon be overtaken by the many competitors vying for fairer shares of the market? These issues will be discussed. But first, let’s get to know more about Spectranet.
The emergence of Spectranet
Spectranet Limited came to Nigeria in 2009 after being awarded an operational license by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). The company’s emergence in the ISP market space was defined by one clear objective- to ensure widespread internet connectivity across Nigeria. To a large extent, it can be said that this objective has been considerably actualised, as the company currently has a widespread customer base. Spectranet is present across many Nigerian cities, including the major ones such as Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, and Ibadan, etc.
As an internet service provider, Spectranet basically offers internet boxes (i.e., Wifi and Mifi modems/routers), as well as different data packages. Examples of its Mifi and Wifi products include Spectranet Portable Mifi (₦35, 000), Spectranet Outdoor Modem (₦70,000), Spectranet Indoor Wifi (₦35,000), and Pebble MIFI 2017. Others are Spectranet’s Wifi router starter pack (₦16, 000), TOZ Indoor CPE (₦25, 000) and Freedom Mifi 2017 (₦16,000).
Spectranet also offers a wide variety of data plans to go with their modems. The company offers different monthly plans that cater to different Nigerians according to their purchasing powers; examples of which include Unified Value 40GB (₦12,500), Unified Value 55GB (₦20,000), Unified Value 200GB (at ₦70,000) and the Unlimited Gold Plan (at ₦18,000), etc.
A look at the competition
According to the NCC, there are more than a hundred licensed internet service providers in Nigeria, all of which are competing with one another for their own shares of the market. Spectranet has roughly about 50% market share with nearly 200,000 subscribers out of a total of about 400,000 active subscribers. Meanwhile, asides competing with one another, the ISPs also compete with Mobile Network Operators such as MTN, 9mobile, and Glo, etc. All of which altogether control about 95 million users.
Spectranet’s challenges – regulatory, operational and infrastructural
Spectranet has over the years struggled with many challenges ranging from regulatory, infrastructural and operational. This has severally prompted the company’s management to join other stakeholders in the sector to decry what they perceive as unfavourable regulatory policies, especially the government’s unfavourable data pricing policy. Last year, the company’s former Chief Executive Officer, David Venn, called on regulators to ensure sanity in the sector and most importantly, make provision for a data floor. According to him, there is a lot of prevailing anti-competitive behaviour in the market which is affecting the sector. In his words, “since the botched data floor policy of Nigerian Communications Commission, it has become difficult for ISPs and Telcos delivering internet service to operate profitably. We are seeking the review of that policy by the authorities to enable operators to deliver quality service and continue to be in business.”
Speaking further, Mr. Venn stated that “another biggest challenge we are facing today is the cost of tower rentals which has continued to increase over the years. It is funny, that international capacity cost has reduced by 50 percent while tower rental cost is increasing unabated. Imagine a situation where the cost of tower rental in three times our salary cost.”
The company also faces other infrastructural challenges, including epileptic power supply and occasional vandalisation of their facilities.
Just like most Nigerian companies have had their former staff members say very unpleasant things about them, Spectranet has also been badmouthed by its ex-staff. According to a former Spectranet employee who spoke to us on condition of anonymity, the company’s not-too-pleasant working conditions may be another major problem contributing to its challenges. According to the anonymous source, the company has a reputation of not paying its staff well, especially at lower levels. This leaves them unmotivated; a situation that is inevitably reflected in the quality of service delivered to customers.
It is also alleged that quite a number of the company’s staff always leave the company in pursuit of better opportunities elsewhere. This again affects the consistency of the quality of service delivered.
The Customers are not very happy
Quite a number of Spectranet’s customers are unsatisfied with the quality of service they receive from the company. A quick look at their social media platforms will confirm this. Most customers’ complaints centre on the constant letdowns they experienced – the poor nature of the network, and irresponsive customer service. These customers feel cheated by Spectranet whom they say parades itself as the best ISP in Nigeria while selling products and services that do not work. Some even go as far as calling the firm “fraudulent” for parading themselves as a 4G lite provider, even though their internet service can at best be classified as a 3G network.
A Twitter poll conducted by Nairametrics asked consumers to choose between Spectranet and Smile, or comment on their reservations against the two. Out of the total number of people that participated in the poll, 27% chose Spectranet as their favorite, while 26% chose Smile. The remaining 47% registered their dislike for both brands, including Towsyn Omowole who said that “they are both bad, to be honest. It depends on your location. We just manage them.”
In conclusion, Spectranet has a huge business potential in Nigeria. Its growth potentials are equally endless. Therefore, the company cannot afford to allow anything jeopardise its future in the Nigerian market. It is for this reason that we are recommending that the company do everything possible to sort out its challenges and keep its customers satisfied in order for it to sustain its market share and possibly improve on it with time.
Switch by Sterling: The remittance game changer
Subscribers to Switch will enjoy unlimited and seamless access to transfer money from abroad like regular wire transfers.
Although Nigerians in diaspora have always been able to access banking services in Nigeria through digital platforms, the recent introduction of the Switch banking app by Sterling Bank is bound to be a game-changer in the mobile banking space.
This is because Switch, a multi-service banking app, leverages technology to address some inadequacies of cross-border transactions and online money transfer such as Dollar to Naira or other convertible currencies on the front burner.
Regardless of exchange rate volatility, subscribers to Switch will enjoy unlimited and seamless access to transfer money from abroad like regular wire transfers.
Coming on board when the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) unveiled a new policy that ensures unhindered remittances for Nigerians in diaspora, Switch has berthed as a product of corporate foresight and a veritable source of foreign exchange earnings for Nigerians.
…Mobile Apps have Come to Stay
The advent of Switch into the mobile banking space in Nigeria has raised the bar of competition in a territory where MoneyGram, Western Union, PayPal, WorldRemit and RiaMoney have held sway over the years.
The app’s user-friendly features have endeared it to Nigerians in diaspora and relegated the competition in every aspect of money transfer from abroad. Essentially, the app is uniquely designed for diverse financial products such as insurance, treasury bills, fixed income securities, payment requests, investments and asset financing, among others.
The money transfer app, which has gained frontline status in its short period of existence, stands out from the competition and serves as a hub for sending money to Nigeria from the United States, United Kingdom and Canada. The easy to use app provides an opportunity for issue resolution using e-mail and social media accounts.
… Coming on Board of Switch
In order to register on Switch, a client is expected to provide aname and contact information while the registration ends with funding of the account. This enables the client to deploy the savings account to transfer money into other Switch users for free and transfers to non-Sterling bank account with fees of N25 or less.
The Switch app can be downloaded from either the Google Play Store or App Store. Subscribers can effortlessly register on the web by a click on the web too. Proving attractive to Nigerians of 18 years and above, its simplicity is fast boosting subscribers’ confidence. Clients will pay zero fee for transfers in the first six months.
…Switch Hedges Subscribers against Fraud
The world of mobile apps is like a game of whack-a-mole. As one fraud is being tackled, fraudsters rear their heads elsewhere with new tactics. Criminals have always exploited the mobile space with fake mobile apps.
However, the ongoing uptick in registration for Sterling Switch is not unconnected with the mobile app’s fraud-protection strategy that runs on advanced machines, specially designed to thwart fraud at both the install and in-app levels. This effectively hedges subscribers of Switch against cyber attacks.
…Switch by Sterling, a win-win
Switch is indeed a game-changer. The much sought-after solution provides better value to customers, builds a stronger brand, unlocks power of better connection for customers and makes account opening easy.
Prospective customers need not download many apps in order to invest in different asset classes. Switch provides opportunities for subscribers to build wealth through investment in various asset classes. It boosts profitability for the custodian.
Subscribers can transfer above N50,000 to other Nigerian banks. In order to enhance its services along the value chain, the solution operates on extended partnership network with PIP iT in the UK, i-invest and Doubble.Ng, among other institutions.
As a top brand, Switch by Sterling identifies its target demography, encourages user engagement, ensures compliance with platform design guidelines, uses frictionless navigating features and is highly responsive.
Switch stands out as the cheapest means for Nigerians in diaspora to transfer money online without risks associated with cross-border transactions. The financial mobile app is fast becoming the benchmark for other mobile apps in the Nigerian banking space.
COVID -19 saving Nigerians millions in wedding and burial costs
As long as the pandemic persists, the ‘new normal’ is for ceremonies to remain subdued.
It was a sunny Saturday in May and like it had been for the better part of 8 weeks, the new normal was in force in Nosa’s household. The lockdown induced COVID-19 meant that all the hustle and bustle of giving attention to side hustles on weekends had all evaporated. Now he spent more time with his kids watching TV and playing video games. Whilst he has had to endure multiple weekends of lost revenue, staying indoors meant that his personal finance was still intact. But things would change dramatically this weekend.
Nosa got a call that he had just lost his aged mother to a brief illness. He had been battling with a terminal illness for years, but things seemed to be under control so her death came as a surprise. Even as he grappled with the thought of losing his mother, Nosa knew that he had to start making preparations for the expenses that are bound to come with burials in an African setting.
Thanks to the pandemic, and rules that came with it, Nosa ended up spending much less than he would have for his mother’s burial with most of the funds going towards mortuary expenses, transport and the direct cost of the actual burial itself.
READ ALSO: Post COVID-19: The Challenges Ahead
“This COVID-19 is bad but it has saved me millions of naira that I would have spent in this burial,” he remarked.
“I wanted to give my mom a befitting burial but these are hard times and I may have borrowed money just to fund this. But with COVID-19 and social distancing in place I did not have to do any of this,” Nosa informs our reporter.
Nosa’s gains translate to massive losses for a whole chain of service providers in the event management industry. Similar occurrences over the last few months have resulted in the loss of revenue for such businesses.
Events in Nigeria often cost anywhere between half a million naira to over N100 million depending on the financial muscle of those spending. Burials, weddings, naming ceremonies and birthday parties, make a burgeoning industry that spans several sectors of the economy.
From mortuaries to casket makers, event planners, event Halls rentals, professional mourners, caterers, confectionaries, party rentals, photographers, video editors, tailors, newspapers , etc, its an entire value chain of businesses that provide one service or the other for this industry.
Each of these events cost millions of naira to organize hosting as many people as the budget can support. According to a CNN article quoting a report from TNS Global, Nigerians spend as much as $9,460 for a wedding ceremony. The report also indicates the party industry could be worth as high as $17 million based on statistics in 2017.
The math can be easily deducted. Assuming 50,000 ceremonies every weekend at an average cost of N1 million that is a N50 billion per weekend or N2.7 trillion ($6.75 billion) per annum. GDP data from the National Bureau of Statistics indicates sectors that support the ceremonies market in Nigeria, telecoms, transportation, Arts and Entertainment is worth a combined N18.4 trillion.
Chuks, a Partner at a top consulting firm in Nigeria admits were it not for the pandemic his wedding could have cost him about N15 million personally and another N20 million spent by family, friends, colleagues and well-wishers. He is in his forties and his wedding had been much anticipated. He went ahead with his wedding last weekend with less than a dozen people in attendance and over 140 others logging on via Zoom. He claims while he ended up not spending millions on food, drinks, wedding halls and other logistic costs, he still achieved his goal of getting married.
Necessity they say is the mother of invention and has millions stay locked in their homes, they have resorted to apps such as Zoom, Instagram Live, Microsoft Teams to hold virtual events. These days Zoom themed parties now have their own rules and conventions. Friends from all parts of the world log in with each person taking turns to say nice things about the celebrants. Games are conducted to spice up the event and stories told by the celebrant. Music is also played by the Zoom host with participants dancing and having fun.
“It is like watching a live movie and also being part of it as the audience and participant” a wedding planner informed Nairametrics. Whilst one cannot underrate the connection physical socializing brings, virtual meetings are gradually becoming a lifestyle and the longer social distancing continues its cultural significance will only continue to increase.
Aderonke Adebamibola, CEO of Unik Ushering Agency, an Event management firm, confirmed to Nairametrics that business has really slowed down in the last few months. “Even though the NCDC has now given rules to guide weddings and other events, the budget now is way less than it used to be due to the cap on numbers of guests” she explained.
Now, most events are kept within the premises of family residences, depriving hall rentals, the money they could have made from leasing out their halls. Venue decorators also have much less on their hands to do, as they no longer have to decorate big halls.
According to Adebamibola, every single business in the chain has been affected, from caterers to ushers.
“Now, we even have to convince them to use one or two ushers for their events because they believe they don’t need ushers for 20 or 30 guests. Caterers cannot even cook a half bag of rice now because of the number of guests. This means that they are also paid less for their services, even if they expend the same energy and time” she said.
The new normal in this industry means that the things that used to be prioritized are no longer priorities. Hand sanitisers, face masks and hand washing equipment are now compulsories in events, while the hand-shaking, and hugs that would have characterized such weddings.
Due to the nature of the industry, a large percentage of the staff are kept on contract basis, so the reduction has not really translated into lay-offs. However, the industry revenue has been badly hit. A contract staff with NPU Events, who preferred anonymity, noted that in the last three months, she has only been called twice for events.
Since this forms a major part of her income, it has caused a major dip in her resources. COVID-19 has brought unwanted hardship to the Nigerian economy with small businesses and workers in the informal sector suffering the most.
A recent World Bank report indicates the Nigerian economy might contract by as much as 3% in GDP growth rate this year. This informed government’s latest decision to inject about N2.3 trillion into the economy to spur economic growth. The funds will be targeted at small businesses through non-collateralized low-interest loans. Whilst all these initiatives are geared towards stimulating the economy, the spending power of Nigerians will remain pivotal and as long as the pandemic persists, ceremonies will remain subdued.
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