- Penetration hits 41.3%
The number of Nigerians connected to high-speed internet rose to 78.9 million in June, statistics released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) revealed.
The data showed that telecommunications operators in the country added 2.2 million customers to their broadband database in the month to raise the figure from 76.6 million recorded in May.
This raised the country’s broadband penetration from 40.14 per cent in May to 41.27 per cent at the end of June. The steady growth in penetration has been attributed to the telecoms operators’ aggressive push for deployment of 4G service across the country.
To extend the service to more Nigerians, the largest mobile network operator in the country, MTN, recently announced more investments targeted at building more 4G infrastructure. MTN said it planned to spend an estimated N600 billion on technical infrastructure over the next three years as it looks to expand its 4G coverage across the entire country by 2024.
The Federal Government also recently launched a new National Broadband Plan (NBP 2020-2025) with a target of achieving 70 per cent penetration in the next five years. This followed the expiration of the NBP 2013-2018, which delivered 31 per cent penetration as of December 2018.
Aside from the 70 per cent penetration target, the government in the new plan also raised the benchmark speed for broadband service in Nigeria to 25 megapixels per second, which is an improvement from the 1.5mbps benchmark in the 2013-2018 plan.
According to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, “this new broadband plan is designed to deliver data download speeds across Nigeria, a minimum of 25Mbps in urban areas, and 10Mbps in rural areas, with effective coverage available to at least 90 per cent of the population by 2025.”
This means that broadband users in a city like Lagos would be able to download 1gigabyte video that is less than one minute, while people in the rural areas would be able to download the same in 160 seconds.
Meanwhile, the total number of Nigerians connected to the internet across mobile, fixed wired and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) also rose significantly in June to hit 143.7 million. According to the NCC’s report, the telecommunications operators added 2.5 million new internet customers in the month.
While the data subscriptions had been on a steady increase in the last one year as the telcos aggressively push for the deployment of 4G infrastructure, the current COVID-19 has forced many Nigerians to depend heavily on the internet for several needs.
According to the NCC’s data, the mobile networks, MTN, Globacom, Airtel, and 9mobile remained the preferred choice of connectivity by many Nigerians as the mobile network operators accounted for 99.7 per cent of the internet subscriptions. While mobile internet subscriptions as of June stood at 140.3 million, subscriptions over fixed wired and VoIP stood at 400,727.
The report showed that MTN added 1.7 million new internet customers in the month. The telco, which had the largest subscriber both for voice and internet, recorded a total of 60.6 million internet customers as of June this year. Globacom also came second in terms of internet customers as it added 734, 774 new subscriptions, which brought its customer base to 37.9 million.
Airtel added 248,784 new internet subscriptions in the month, which brought the telco’s total internet customers to 37.5 million. 9mobile maintained its fourth position with a further decline in the number of its internet customers. The telco lost 160,927 data customers in June, which reduced its total subscription number to 7.09 million.
While data subscription currently plays second fiddle to voice in terms of revenue for the telcos, it is gradually becoming the main source of income as voice declines. For instance, MTN, in its Q1 2020 financial result disclosed that it recorded a sharp increase in data revenue, while voice revenue only increased marginally. The telco’s data revenue jumped by 59.2 per cent to N74 billion in Q1 2020, while voice revenue only grew by 7.4 per cent in the same quarter.