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Competition for internet subscribers in Nigeria took a different turn as Nigeria’s largest mobile telecommunication company, MTN, led the way in the month under review. Operators in the industry showed no sign of relenting, as they intensified efforts to outcompete each other for market share in an increasingly fickle market.

According to data from the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC),  a total of 493,556 internet subscribers dumped Glo and 9mobile during the month in favour of MTN and Airtel, two of Nigeria’s largest data sellers.

MTN edges out Airtel after a 5-month drop

In a turn of events, MTN edged out Airtel for the first time in 5 months, gaining a total of 488,120 internet subscribers. This contrasts sharply against an earlier report which showed that MTN lost a whopping 667,245 internet subscribers, while Airtel Nigeria gained the biggest.

  • Despite the rise in MTN’s number of internet subscribers, it still pales in comparison to the over 2.4 million internet subscribers added in May 2019. MTN now has 52,163,778 subscribers.
  • Airtel, which had led the way in recent months in terms of gainers, recorded a slight drop. In October, it gained 420,031 internet subscribers, compared to 444,598 gained in the previous month. Airtel Nigeria continues to witness additional internet subscribers on a month-on-month basis.
  • In total, active internet subscribers by GSM stood at 123,206,103 compared to 122,792,291. This represents an increase of 413,812 subscribers only.
  • Internet subscribers on GSM networks have now increased by 11,573,587 since December 31, 2018, representing a growth of just 5.6%. The number of internet subscribers was 73, 122,552 5 years ago in October 2014.

[READ MORE: Analysis: Airtel is winning the data war]

Subscribers dump Glo again as 9mobile continues to slip 

Globacom continues to lose internet subscribers as more people dumped the network for the second month in a row. The GSM company lost about 370,845 internet subscribers, an increase from the 155,118 internet subscribers lost in September. The company has lost a cumulative 525,963 internet subscribers in just 2 months.

9mobiles also failed to attract new subscribers as its steady decline persisted in the month under review. In October alone, 122,711 internet subscribers dumped 9mobile, as against 156,065 recorded in September.

Airtel continues to trail as MTN extends market share. While Airtel has significantly gained subscribers this year, it still trails behind MTN in terms of total internet subscriber base.

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  • At the end of October 2019, MTN’s total market share was 65.87 million subscribers from 65.3 million subscribers recorded in September.
  • Airtel rose to 49.08 million subscribers, Globacom is 50.25million, while 9mobile continues its free fall with 14.7 million subscribers left.
  • In terms of market share in percentages, as at October 2019, MTN controls 36.57%, Glo (27,90%), Airtel (27.25%) and 9mobile (8.21%).

Critical concerns to Nigerians continue to linger

While GSM  companies continue to jostle for market share, it has often come at the expense of poor service and lack of accountability.  Just last week, Nairametrics reported the reactions of Olanrewaju Ogunmefun, popularly known as Vector, who took to Twitter along-side other Nigerians to criticize MTN’s data charges.

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Vector expressed his frustration at quick data depletion. He said Nigerians work hard to earn their pay, only for telcos to scoop everything through data depletion. His outburst against MTN led to the hashtag, #MTNdoBETTER on Twitter.


While reporting, Nairametrics interviewed random subscribers’ opinions to determine recent developments during the month.

According to an MTN user, who spoke to Nairametrics, “MTN internet service is fast, but the data burns out quickly.” 

A Glo user, stated, “Glo data is cheap as they give several bonuses but very frustrating at the same time. I recently subscribed and ended up not being able to use my data because of bad network.”

To an Airtel user, “Airtel data is fast, but the data still gets exhausted quite fast. Although I use a new data plan recently introduced with more gig, the consumption rate is very high.”


[READ ALSO: Why Nigeria’s Data woes may not end soon]

A 9mobile user lamented, “I still use 9mobile for my internet bundle, but I really don’t understand what is wrong with the system. I recently subscribed for 2 gig, which got exhausted in two days without any downloads. I will move to another network soon.

Nigeria’s internet download speed remains among the slowest in the world, and while the telcos continue to rake in heavy gains from data sales, consumers’ continue to groan for lack of fast, cheap and affordable internet services.


  1. I have been enjoying my Mtn data since Nov now. Airtel frustrated me that i had to subscribe like 4 times just within last month only. So i decided to try Mtn sub this time, but its been a good experience so far. I love Airtel n i av recommended Airtel bundles for different people but this days, i am so tired of them already. 3gig data gets finish within 5 days of subscription without downloading anything. God have mercy!

    • Nor be airtel be that. Na your phone. 3gb? Me de download and play online games, leave router on and shit. But my data nor de finish like this one wey you talk. Max 5 days. And na heavy use de cause am

  2. Despite d fast mtn data connection, it gulp up data like mad, my 4G data was exhausted in just 2 wks,though d network is fast but at least they should reduce d way they charge d data usage.

  3. Glo data is whack & very frustrating. U get attracted wt der many bonuses but end up not using it till it expires. Am experiencing it at d moment & I regret not recharging my airtel bundle. “Glo,pls fix ur issues 1st or u kip losing more customers”.

  4. The experience of the past five months using Glo, based on my location has been good. It hasn’t always been this way though. On my previous device (3G), using Glo was a painful experience, until I got a 4G device. Glo data lasts longer for me compared to other networks.

  5. This findings no doubt is the current reality at the moment..I dumped my Glo line 3months ago and opted for a single sim device with my MTN line…Honestly I don’t know how MTN do their business I think I will advice Glo to purge MTN of their good brilliant workers with mouth watering offers

  6. Glo they are going in giving data. But their problem is weak service and slow internet. Sometimes you might have 2gig data and unable to use it. The time for me to use glo data is at midnight because during the day it will nt connect so I stopped using glo but only to call


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