Nigerians now use 80,000 terabytes of internet monthly, above SSA average

Nigerians now consume 80,000 terabytes of internet data every month says Umar Garba Danbatta, executive vice-chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

The 80,000 terabytes (TB) amount to 80,000,000 Gigabytes (GB) which if shared with Nigeria’s 108.27 million unique internet users comes to 0.73GB per user on a monthly basis. The average in sub-Saharan Africa is 6.8GB according to data from Statista.

Nigeria’s 0.73GB per user however is below that of South Africa where average user consumption has risen to 17.6 GB per month since 2014. The region with the highest monthly consumption is North America at 50GB per user.

Terabyte is one of the classifications used to measure data storage capacity or computer memory. A terabyte is 10 to the power of 12 bytes represented in a binary.

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A byte is a unit most computers use to represent a character such as a letter, number, or typographic symbol.

A byte consists of 8 adjacent binary digits (bits), each of which consists of a 0 or 1. The string of bits making up a byte is processed as a unit by a computer; bytes are the smallest operable units of storage in computer technology.

The prefixes “kilo,” “mega,” “giga,” and “tera” are metric prefixes that relate to multiples of one thousand each, but computer system memory is organized into a binary structure based on powers of 2.

Within a computer system, a different set of prefixes refers to 1,024 of the preceding unit, instead of one thousand, but commercial-level production has normalized the use of metric measurements for these units, meaning that a “megabyte” may refer either to 1,000 or 1024 kilobytes, and a kilobyte may refer to 1,000 or 1,024 bytes.

The most popular plans offered by mobile phone companies are 1GB, 2GB, or 5GB of mobile data allowance. But deals can start as low as 100MB depending on the users’ needs. And for those data-hungry phone users, they even get an unlimited data plan.

1GB (or 1000MB) is about the minimum data allowance users are likely to want, as with that they could browse the web, use social networks, and check email for up to around 40 minutes per day.

Internet usage has been growing over the years. A study by Ofcom Communication released in September 2020, found that the average person used 2.9GB of mobile data per month in early 2019, which is an increase of 34 percent on the previous year. By the end of 2019, Ofcom’s interactive data shows mobile data use averaging 3.6GB per month – a further increase of 22 percent.

In Nigeria, the number of internet users has surged in recent times as smartphone prices dropped. However, the economic crisis in the country has ensured that growth is not evenly spread. While smartphone owners account for 33 percent of total mobile phone ownership, they are mostly confirmed to the population in the urban areas.

The urban areas also take a major share of all internet infrastructure investments, leaving millions of people in rural areas with sparsely distributed internet services and smartphone ownership is limited.

Nigeria’s fixed broadband technologies which are required to drive the 4th Industrial Revolution applications including smart city, IoT, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, and other advanced technologies, are currently available only in high net worth urban areas.

Access to fibre networks within 5 kilometres of the population currently stands at an average of approximately 39 percent reach, with a high of 85 percent in Lagos State and a low of 12 percent in Jigawa State.

It is therefore most likely that the 80,000 terabytes usage per month is mostly contributed by urban internet users.

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