New Telegraph

Telcos lose 13.8m internet subscriptions in five months

Broadband penetration shrinks to 39.59%



Steadily for five months, telecom operators recorded a decline in internet subscriptions as the ban on SIM registration took a toll


Telecommunications operators in the country lost a total of 13.8 million internet subscriptions between January and May, New Telegraph has learnt.


According to the latest industry data released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the number of internet subscriptions across the mobile networks, fixed wired and VoIP stood at 140.5 million in May after five months of consistent decline. As of December 2020, active internet subscriptions across all the networks stood at 154.3 million.


The declining subscriptions, analysts said, would hurt the operators’ income as data has become a major revenue earner for the service providers.


With lots of investments being pumped into building 4G networks across the country, the lull in subscriptions, analysts said, may force the operators to slow down their infrastructure expansion.


The loss, which is attributable to the four months suspension of new SIM registration, also continued in May despite the lifting of the ban on April 19, but with condition that NIN must be presented before a SIM can be acquired.


According to the government, the suspension, which took effect on December 9, 2020, was to allow a proper audit of the SIM registration database with a view to ensuring that all mobile lines in the country are properly registered. However, many subscribers whose SIMs had issues, lost or stolen were unable to get a replacement within the period.


According to the NCC’s data, all the operators recorded a decline in their internet subscription database in the last five months. MTN, which is the largest operator by the number of subscriptions, also recorded the biggest loss in the month as its internet database declined  by 5.1 million between January and May.


This brought its total subscriptions to 60.3 million from 65.4 million it recorded in December 2020. Airtel also lost the same amount of internet subscriptions in the period under review as its database declined from 41.2 million to 36.1 million in May.


Globacom’s internet subscriptions declined by 2.5 to 37.5 million while 9mobile shed  903,005 to have 6.2 million subscriptions at the end of May.


The decline general decline in subscriptions has also seen the country’s broadband penetration plunged amidst the implementation of the National Broadband Plan (2020-2025), which seeks to connect 70 per cent of Nigerians within five years.


The country had consistently recorded a decrease in the number of broadband users in the  last six months, which brought the penetration level down to 39.95 per cent from a peak of 45.93 per cent in October 2020. In November 2020, broadband penetration had declined by 1.6 million, breaking 10 months of consistent monthly growth.


By December, it went down further as the number of broadband subscriptions stood at 85.9 million, compared with 86 million in the preceding month while the penetration level went down to 45.02 per cent from 45.07 per cent recorded in the preceding month.

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