Nigeria’s Telco ‘Data War’ Is Hotting Up & These Are The Biggest Winners/Losers

By  |  December 4, 2019

In the month of October, the cut-throat nature of the “inter-telco” competition for the lion share of internet subscribers in Nigeria came to the fore. And as usual, there were winners and losers.

MTN Nigeria, the telecom operator with the largest market share in the country, arrested what seems like several months of malaise by getting the better of the competition in the month of October.

For several months, the telco had been bleeding internet subscribers owing to several factors including the cost and rate of exhaustion of its mobile data offerings. At a time, the telco even lost over 650,000 internet subscribers in one month.

But it appears MTN is finally getting something right as the telco took everyone by surprise by adding on 488,120 internet subscribers in October 2019. And that’s according to the latest data from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

It’s the first time in 5 months that MTN managed to get the better of Airtel Nigeria which has been coming out on top in the data war for the better part of this year.

On the other hand, a total of 493,556 internet subscribers dumped Glo and 9mobile during the said month in favour of MTN and Airtel, two of Nigeria’s largest data sellers.

In total, active internet subscribers by GSM stood at 123,206,103 compared to 122,792,291. This represents an increase of 413,812 subscribers only.

Internet subscribers on GSM networks have now increased by 11,573,587 since December 31, 2018, representing a growth of 5.6 percent. The number of internet subscribers was 73,122,552 five years ago in October 2014.

The Winners

Although MTN posted a rise in its number of internet subscribers, that figure is still dwarfed still by the over 2.4 million internet subscribers added in May 2019. Overall, MTN now has 52,163,778 internet subscribers.

Airtel, which had led the way in recent months in terms of gainers, recorded a slight drop. In October, it gained 420,031 internet subscribers, compared to 444,598 gained in the previous month. Airtel Nigeria continues to witness additional internet subscribers month-on-month.

However, Airtel continues to trail MTN in the internet subscribers’ market share. While Airtel has significantly gained subscribers this year, it still comes behind MTN in terms of total internet subscriber base.

The Losers

While Globacom Limited (also known as “Glo”) boasts the cheapest internet rates in Nigeria, the suspect nature of its internet services have only driven subscribers away.

Glo continues to lose internet subscribers as more people dumped the network for the second month in a row. The telco lost about 370,845 internet subscribers — higher than the 155,118 internet subscribers lost in September. The company has lost a cumulative 525,963 internet subscribers in just 2 months.

9mobile also failed to attract new subscribers as its steady decline persisted in the month under review. In October alone, 122,711 internet subscribers dumped 9mobile, as against 156,065 recorded in September.

Overall Telecoms Market Share Breakdown

At the end of October 2019, MTN’s total market share was 65.87 million subscribers from 65.3 million subscribers recorded in September.

Airtel rose to 49.08 million subscribers, Globacom is 50.25million, while 9mobile continued its free-fall after 14.7 million subscribers abandoned the telco.

In terms of percentage market share, as of October 2019, MTN controls 36.57 percent, Glo (27,90 percent), Airtel (27.25 percent) and 9mobile (8.21 percent).

Featured Image Courtesy: TechnologyTimesNG

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