The Nigerian telecoms industry has shown early signs of a marginal drop in uptake of phone lines even as appetite for internet services rise among Nigerians, according to official data reviewed by Technology Times.
The market showed a slight drop in 2% national teledensity with overall active phone lines dropping from 207,907,709 in November against 207,954,737 the previous month, according to data by the telecoms industry regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
Teledensity is the telecoms industrys barometer for reflecting the number of active telephone connections per 100 inhabitants living within an area, and in the case of Nigeria, is expressed as a percentage figure using the national population estimate of 190 million, according to NCC.
Nigerian telecoms industry: How Leading Mobile Network Operators Rank
#1: MTN Nigeria
39.52% Market share
57,231,523 Active phones lines
65,767,750 Active internet users
Pictured: Ferdi Moolman, CEO, MTN Nigeria
#2: Airtel Nigeria
27.58% Market Share
57,231,523 Active Phone Lines
41,524,039 Active internet users
Pictured: Segun Ogunsanya, CEO, Airtel Nigeria
26.55% Market share
55,089,386 Active phone lines
39,906,199 Active internet users
Pictured: Mike Adenuga Jr, Chairman, Globacom
6.35% Market share
13,188,059 Active phone lines
7,239,635 Active internet users
Pictured: Alan Sinfield, CEO, 9mobile
Despite the marginal drop in teledensity recorded as at November, the fortune of the Nigerian telecoms industry has grown when considered against the same period in the preceding year.
As at November 2019, active phone lines in the Nigerian telecoms industry was 182,702,988, representing a teledensity of 95.71% when compared with the November 2020 peak of 207,907,709 active phone lines and teledensity of 108.92%. The preceding month of October 2020 recorded 207,954,737 active phone lines and teledensity of 108.94%.
In the Nigerian telecoms industry, internet and its higher speed version, broadband, is recording growing uptake leading to a rising local internet community in the country.
Within the period under review, the number of active internet subscriber base has grown to 154,437,623 active connections driven largely by the four leading mobile network operators (MNOs), MTN Nigeria, Airtel Nigeria, Glo Mobile and 9Mobile.
Nigerian telecoms industry: The rise of the internet community
While the four MNOs that control the internet services sector of the market ride on the GSM mobile technology standard, a number of other smaller players pipe their data services using VOIP, CDMA, and wired technology alternatives.
By November, the Nigerian telecoms industry active internet subscription base was 154,878,203 with the GSM networks accounting for 154,437,623; VOIP, 429,121 and fixed wired, 11,459.
Within the same period in the preceding year, Nigeria recorded 122,834,559 active internet subscription base, which has continued to record month-on-month growth fueling the rising of the internet community and online services growth across the country.
Nigerian telecoms industry: Fuelling broadband growth
The telecoms market information also reveals that the broadband subscriptions in the Nigerian telecoms industry was 86,031,162, representing 45.07% of the national spread for the high-speed internet connection nationwide. This has grown from 71,981,937, representing 37.71% broadband spread from November 2019, when compared with the current information.
The Nigerian telecoms industry remains a major to national wealth as the sector contributions to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country by Q2 2020 was 11.20%, representing an increase over the Q4 2019 position of 10.60%.
Technology Times review of the market information shows that 2020 was a year of sustained month-on-month growth for the telecoms industry in uptake of new phone lines and internet services until the month of November.
That was the moth that recorded the marginal drop in the national teledensity by 2% and active phone lines dropping from 207,907,709 against 207,954,737 in October, in what may be an early signal of the road ahead for the competitive telecoms landscape as operators reposition to stay ahead of the curve in the rollout of triple-play service of voice, data and video as more Nigerians look towards technology in the way they live, work and play.
Nigerian telecoms industry: The era ahead of mobile explosion
But the state of play in todays telecoms landscape has witnessed radical transformation riding from the early days of mobile explosion that was triggered by the commercial service rollout by MTN Nigeria and Econet Wireless Nigeria (now Airtel Nigeria) in August 2001, following the January 2001 digital mobile spectrum auctions by the NCC.
In years to follow, the entry of Globacom, the Second National Operator, with the launch of service by its wholly-owned mobile unit, Glo Mobile and others like 9mobile and Ntel has fostered market competition, service innovation and growth.
Ahead of the spectrum auctions of 2001, the Nigerian telecoms industry recorded low accessibility, affordability and availability of basic telephony services that saw the country boasting just about 750,000 phone lines and about 30,000 cellular lines for a population of over 120 million people.
It was a major concern for the administration of then President Olusegun Obasanjo who had accorded priority attention to critical sectors like transport, telecoms and energy, and sustained a drive to create an enabling environment for private and foreign investors to be the drivers of growth.
Ahead of the January 2001 spectrum auctions, which was to later radically transform the Nigerians telecoms industry, and the fortunes of the nation, the industry regulator had projected 1.5 million phone lines per operator over the next five years rounding up to an estimate of six million lines by 2006.
In fact, the bidders have conservatively estimated that they will deploy between 75,000 and 200,000 phone lines in the first year of commercial operations in the Nigerian telecoms industry.
The months to follow were phenomenal as Nigerians who have for years considered basic telephony services as luxury embraced the new GSM networks driving up rapid uptake of mobile phones such that by the first year of the rollout in 2002, the Nigerian telecoms industry ramped up 2,271,050 active phone lines.
If the first year was considered phenomenal, the ones that followed proved spectacular as the Nigerian telecoms market rose from over two million in 2002 to 33,858,022 by 2006, exceeding the six million lines set by the telecoms regulator, NCC.