The amount of money Nigerians spend every month to recharge their mobile lines has increased from N212 billion exactly a year ago to N267.8 billion this year, despite the challenges facing the economy, LEADERSHIP investigations have revealed.
The findings also revealed an increase of 2.8 million phone users within the corresponding period, from 146 million last year to 148.8 million mobile lines across all telecommunication networks in the country.
This is largely due to the increase in the number of registered phone users as well as the devaluation of the naira which has increased the cost of expenditure by phone subscribers.
The figures were arrived at using the Average Revenue Per User (ARPU), a telecommunications benchmark that measures the average monthly revenue generated by operators from telecoms subscribers in the country and the current active lines on the networks of all the telecommunication companies.
According to the latest subscriber statistics released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), last week, the monthly subscriber base went up from 147,568,310 in April to 148,848,158 in May, showing a subscriber growth of 1,279, 848 million within the period.
Using the current $6 ARPU spent by subscribers which is equal to the official exchange rate of N310 to a $1, Nigerian mobile subscribers spend on average N1,860 to recharge their mobile phones monthly. This amounts to N267, 857, 573, 880 billion for 148,848,158 million mobile subscribers.
According to NCC’s latest statistics, Nigeria’s teledensity has also gone up from 105.41 per cent in April to 106.32 per cent in May 2016, showing an increase of .91 per cent.
LEADERSHIP learnt that the number of registered lines could have risen to over 160 million but for the deactivation of unregistered subscribers by MTN, Airtel, Globacom and Etisalat in order to curtail criminal activities.
President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Mr Olusola Teniola, said the amount of money spent by Nigerians to recharge their mobile phones could have reached the N300 billion mark but for the deactivation of millions of unregistered subscriber lines from the networks of all the telecommunication operators.
MTN’s competitiveness was compromised by the mandatory disconnection of subscribers and the suspension of regulatory services until May 2016, when the operation attained the necessary approvals to introduce market-related pricing plans and promotions. In addition, the introduction of regulatory restrictions on “out-of-bundle” data tariffs impacted MTN Nigeria’s data revenue growth.
Internet users drop to 92 million
NCC, in its monthly subscriber report, also stated that Internet users on mobile networks have reduced to 92,281,921 million as at June, 2016.
An analysis of the data showed that internet users on both the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) and the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) networks reduced by 81,415, from 92,363,336 million subscribers in May.
The data showed that out of the 92,281,921 internet users in June, 92,181,178 were on the GSM networks while 100,743 users were on the CDMA.
Of the 92,181,178 internet users on the GSM networks in June, MTN Nigeria, which had 32,974,177 customers browsing on its network, suffered a decrease of 134,609 subscribers after recording 33,108,786 users in May. On the other hand, Globacom recorded an increase of 272,674 users from its May record of 26,355,391 to 26,628,065 in June.
Airtel Nigeria followed Globacom with a rise in the number of internet subscribers to 17,325,423 in June, as against 17,280,089 customers in May. The records, therefore, showed that Airtel Nigeria network users increased by 45,334 in June.
The data also showed that Etisalat lost a total of 254,511 users in the month under review, dropping from 15,508,024 in May to 15,253,513 internet users in June. It also revealed that the only two surviving CDMA networks in the country, Multi-Links and Visafone, had a joint total of 100,743 internet users on their networks in June, recording a decrease of 10,303 users from 111,046 in May.
Multi-Links remained unchanged with four internet users in the month of June, while Visafone had 100,739 customers browsing the internet in June, showing a reduction of 10,303 users from its May record of 111,042.
The NCC urged more Nigerians to embrace the internet in line with the country’s bid to achieve 30 per cent broadband penetration by 2018.
Last week, Visafone which was acquired by MTN Nigeria, began the test-run of its Fourth Generation Long Term Evolution (4GLTE) internet technology service for smartphone users which is expected to drive broadband penetration in the country from under 10 per cent at present to the targeted 30 per cent by 2018.
General manager, Consumer Marketing, MTN Nigeria, Richard Iweanoge, speaking to the specifics of the test-run and subsequent launch, disclosed that the 4GLTE technology will be launched with the sole objective of providing Nigerians with the best, fastest and most competitive ICT services for all stakeholders.
“We are pleased to set the pace once again as we break new boundaries with this test run, which will be available for now for our Visafone customers, who are provisioned on the 800MHz band. When we roll out fully, especially with our 2.6GHz spectrum, the launch will help to enhance customer experience for our over 60 million subscribers, while ensuring greater coverage, access, affordability and ultimately a smart lifestyle for everyone,” he said.
NCC moves to deepen penetration
Executive vice chairman of the NCC, Professor Umar Danbatta, said the telecom regulator was working to deepen the telecom industry to ensure penetration and access to all Nigerians even in the remote areas.
He said to achieve this, NCC and the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) had set up a joint committee to design a framework for collaboration to optimize development efforts for telecommunications and ICT in the country.
Prof Danbatta urged the committee members to work assiduously to ensure that the objective of the collaboration was realised.
“We must concentrate on those things that we know that, with the right investments and involvement of our human capital resources, we would realise things that we can show the world about the giant strides that are being made in this country, especially in the area of Information and Communications Technology,” he said.
According to Danbatta, the agreement to collaborate is consistent with the mandates of the two entities to ensure pervasive penetration of ICTs.
“What we are looking at is the progress we are steadily making by the day to ensure we reach the destination of what we call a networked society, a society that is e-driven, a society that is ICT-driven, as well as a society that will be relying on the power and leveraging on ICT to conduct all kinds of businesses,” he said.