• Thursday, April 18, 2024
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BusinessDay

Over 400,000 telecom subscribers swapped network in 6 years

485,348 telecom subscribers swapped network providers in 6 years

Four hundred and eighty-five thousand, three hundred and forty-eight (485,348) telecommunication subscribers have swapped network providers in the last six years.

A BusinessDay analysis of data from the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) revealed that most of the subscribers moved to 9mobile (191,491) between January 2018 to November 2023.

MTN welcomed 136,932 new subscribers, with Airtel following closely with 130,320, and Globacom attracting 26,605 subscribers.

Read also: Glo subscribers won’t be barred from calling MTN lines — NCC

Porting occurs when a mobile subscriber changes their mobile network provider while retaining their number. This service was launched as Mobile Number Portability in 2013 by the NCC.

The service ensures that subscribers can move from one network provider to the other for better quality of service, cheaper call and data rates, as well as other promotional offers.

The data revealed that the bulk of subscribers who moved to 9mobile did so between 2018-2020. The growth in porting to 9mobile’s network (and other networks) has, however, slowed in the past three years.

While 9mobile recorded 187,268 new subscribers (from porting) between 2018 to 2020, the number has since fallen to 4,223 subscribers between 2021 and 2023, signifying a 97 percent decline.

Adeolu Ogunbanjo, National President of National Association of Telecoms Subscribers, told BusinessDay that 9mobile benefited from the congestion on other networks between 2018 and 2020.

“Congestion is the most common reason people ported to 9mobile from other networks. While insurgence may also be a reason for porting, people always move from the busy networks to the less busy ones for ease and accessibility,” he said.

Ogunbanjo also noted that the decline in mobile portability from 2021 to 2023 has been because of NIN-SIM issues.

“The NIN-SIM linking which started in 2021 is one of the most important factors responsible for the low porting in the period. Rather than porting, many people chose to buy new SIMs,” he added.

Read also: NCC vows renewed focus on consumers, plans new modalities for tariff

The data further showed statistics of porting out on these networks. While each telco recorded a significant inflow of subscribers, they all lost subscribers to other networks too.

151,698 subscribers ported out of Airtel, 115,135 moved out of Glo, 114,747 ported out of 9mobile, and 85,260 ported out of MTN.

Gbenga Adebayo, President of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) noted in a conversation with BusinessDay that porting activity is not a strong enough metric to determine the performance of a network provider, contrary to popular beliefs.

“To understand the numbers, we need to know why exactly people port. People have different reasons for porting which may range from availability, access, pricing, and quality.

“Since the data is so small compared to the general number of subscribers and the data is not geolocated, we cannot say use the porting metrics to decide the quality of service of the entire network provider,” he explained.