MTN, Airtel, Glo, and 9mobile lost over 14 million data subscribers between November 2020 and October 2021.
This is according to information obtained from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
The subscribers of the four major Internet Service Providers’ dropped from 154, 437, 623 in November 2020 to 139, 983, 370 as at end of October 2021.
Top losers in the data market
Between November 2020 and October 2021, MTN Nigeria lost a total of 7.45 million data subscribers. At the end of October 2021, the telco giant had 58, 317, 291 data subscribers, down from 59, 594, 891 and 65, 767, 750 it recorded as at the end of July 2021and November 2020 respectively.
Airtel lost a total of 4.63 million data subscribers within the period of review, as its data subscribers dropped from 41, 524, 039 recorded as of the end of November to 36, 894, 332 by the end of October 2021.
The others, 9mobile and GloMobile, also witnessed the drought, as they lost a total of 1,437, 305 and 936, 782 data subscribers respectively within the same period.
What experts are saying about the drop
A telecom and data expert, Wale Adebowale, told Nairametrics that the drought witnessed in the industry is not the fault of any of the ISPs but a number of factors. According to him, Nigeria emerged at 56th position in the internet quality index in the world’s Digital Quality of Life Index (DQL) 2021, which was released recently.
He said, “The study ranked Nigeria at 56th position in the internet quality index due to low internet speeds. Nigeria has one of the slowest broadband connection speeds globally (13.45 Mbps), ranking 105th, and slightly faster mobile internet (17.91 Mbps), ranking 96th. However, the country’s broadband speed growth is one of the fastest on the planet, ranking 16th.”
The study shows that Nigeria’s internet affordability is 90% worse than the global average. People in Nigeria have to work the most time in the world – more than 35 hours – to afford the cheapest broadband internet.
Änother expert, Tosin Oluwole, agrees with Adebowale, as he attributed the development to pricing, service quality, and the presence of alternative ISPs.
He said, “The decline in the number of data subscribers was caused largely by the high cost of internet in the country and the persistent poor quality of services rendered by the mobile firms. We should not be ignorant of the presence of smaller ISPs, who at times provide better services for their subscribers compared to their GSM counterparts.”
Another factor that can be attributed to the decline in the number of subscribers in the period could be the suspension of registration of new lines as the Nigerian government continues the nationwide NIN-SIM registration nationwide. This development has caused many users to queue at various NIMC offices in order to obtain their National Identification Number (NIN) before they make use of their lines.
In case you missed it
Nairametrics had reported that Globacom gained over 1 million internet subscribers in the third quarter of 2021, growing its customer base to 38.9 million as of September 2021 from 37.9 million at the beginning of the quarter.
According to data obtained, MTN lost about 1.2 million subscribers in the review quarter, as its data customer base dropped to 58.4 million from 59.6 million as of the end of June 2021. This represents a 2% decline in internet subscribers.