Nigeria’s telecommunication landscape witnessed another high level of competition in terms of the data war among operators, as subscribers exercised their power of ‘free entry and free exit’ in July 2020 to abandon some network providers for preferred networks.
According to data released by the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) for the month of July 2020, while Nigeria’s largest mobile telecommunication company, MTN, gained 1.69 million data subscribers, Airtel successfully edged out Glo in terms of data subscriber numbers, as the telco added 1.49 million subscribers over the indigenous brand.
Back story: In June 2020, Nairametrics reported that Glo attracted more subscribers, outshining Airtel (subscriber base) for the first time in years. Despite a challenging year for Globacom in terms of its data subscriber base, the telco took industry watchers by surprise, as its subscriber base number chased, met and overtook Airtel’s In June 2020.
For the first time in years, the once second largest telco (subscribers base) lost its position to the indigenous company as the latter increased its base from 34.24 million in May to 37.97 million by the end of June 2020. The Indian-owned telco only managed to increase its base from 37.32 million to 37.57 million within the same period.
On the other hand, 9mobile ended the month without attracting any data subscriber. According to the NCC data, 9mobile continues its steady decline, as a total of 16,000 subscribers dumped the network for others when it fell from 7.26 million subscribers to 7.10 million within the same period.
MTN still leads the pack
Competition among three of Nigeria’s largest data sellers took different turns in July, as Airtel recovered from the drop recorded in June when it took over its second-place position from Glo. It is important to note that in June 2020, about 249,000 data subscribers dumped Airtel for other networks, a development that made Glo take over the second place from the brand.
Meanwhile, in a complete twist of events, at the end of July 2020, the total number of data subscribers on MTN data network rose from 60.60 million in June to 62.29 million in July, followed by Airtel data network, which rose from 37.56 million to 39.05 million. This means the telcos added 1.69 million and 1.49 million data subscribers, respectively.
In its own case, Glo managed to increase its subscriber base by 285,014 from 37.97 million to 38.25 million within the same period.
However, 9mobile has consistently shed its subscriber base for several months. According to the NCC data, 9mobile continues its steady decline, as a total of 1.81 million subscribers dumped the network for others in 2019. Between January and July 2020, 902,574 internet subscribers dumped the GSM company, a drop from 8.04 million in January to 7.14 million subscribers by the end of July 2020.
Internet remains slow in Nigeria despite the global return to the pre-COVID-19 level
In its recent report in tracking COVID-19’s Impact on Global Internet Performance, which was updated in July 2020, Speed Test found that internet speeds in most countries have stabilized to pre-pandemic levels.
However, it stated that in the case of Nigeria, while the global fixed speed increased by 5%, the African giant’s speed was rated -2% and her mobile speed change at -3%.
Also, Nairametrics had reported earlier that years down the line, Nigeria is still faced with poor internet quality. In a recent survey conducted on 4G services in 77 countries including Nigeria, Network monitoring outfit, Opensignal, concluded that congestion is messing with the 4G user experience. Nigeria ranked 75 out of 77 of the countries surveyed in terms of 4G speed.
According to Opensignal, the 4G networks enjoyed today are light-years from the 3G that kicked off the mobile data revolution at the turn of the millennium, but the networks have their faults. The biggest among them is inconsistency and congestion.
In all, while GSM companies continue to jostle for market share, it has often come at the expense of poor service and lack of accountability. Quite frankly, as an average internet user in Nigeria, one is usually left at the mercy of poor mobile internet services which frustrate one to seek limited alternatives.