BusinessDay
NigeriaDecides2023

Nigeria’s connected lines hit 161 million as poor service persist

Inspite of the continuous deterioration in quality of service rendered by mobile network operators, Nigeria’s connected telephone lines has reached 161 million, growing by 2, 049, 470 in March 2013. The country’s connected lines as at February 2013 was 159, 879,295 but rose to 161, 928, 765 in March. The demand for telecommunications services is still growing, refuting claims that the industry is saturated. Subscribers have continued to express discontent about prevalence of poor quality of services across all networks. According to the latest industry statistics obtained from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), weekend, Nigeria’s active telephone lines moved from the 116 million in February to over 117 million in March.

GSM operators including MTN Nigeria; India’s Airtel; Globacom and Etisalat Nigeria presently have 114 million subscribers; the troubled Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) operators including Starcomms; Visafone and Multilinks recorded a loss in their active subscriber base. The CDMA operators, which had 2, 790, 989 active subscription as at February, lost 87, 385 subscribers, entering March with 2,703, 604. Similarly, the Fixed Wired/Wireless sub-Sector with 410, 664 in February recorded downward profile in March, having 405, 625 subscribers. The telecoms sector’s installed capacity however grew by 10.7 million in March, further moving from million in February to 237.4 million.

The sector also recorded slight deeper telephone penetration in March. The teledensity moved from 83.2 per cent to 83.7 per cent in March. It must however, be mentioned that the operators have announced independently the ploughing of about N960 billion into network upgrades and expansion to be able to checkmate the increasing service challenges. The NCC is however, yet to come out with the number of subscribers that have switched networks in the on-going Mobile Number Portability (MNP). Tony Ojobo, director of public affairs, NCC had earlier disclosed that 48 hours after the launch on April 22, about 4, 000 subscribers ported.

Deolu Ogunbanjo, the president of the National Associations of Telecommunications Subscribers of Nigeria (NATCOMS) however, said that six weeks into the process in Nigeria, about 10, subscribers have ported.

Ogunbanjo, while appreciating the NCC for introducing MNP, pointed out that most subscribers are yet to get along with the process, stressing that lots of awareness and technicalities around it must be resolved. Gbenga Adebayo, chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), said MNP will not take away service quality challenges.

Adebayo said QoS challenge is distinct, saying that it only provides subscribers networks options. “Like I have said in several of my interviews, MNP will not resolve service quality challenges. It only gives subscribers network provider options. We need to go back to the basics. It has become urgent for government to also intervene. “The issue of fibre cuts; incessant sites closure by (Local government and agencies of government); multiple taxations, all must be address”, he stated. According to him, the problem of congestion may not be resolved until government steps in and address grey areas confronting investment in the sector.

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