Nigeria’s broadband penetration declined in March 2023 by 0.28 percent from 48.49 percent in February to 48.21 percent in March. In February this year, President Muhammadu Buhari said the country had attained 100 percent broadband penetration. However, the latest data by the NCC contradicts the statement of the President on the state of broadband, which indicated that the country still needs about 21.79 percent of broadband penetration before 2025 to achieve its 70 percent target for the year. The latest industry data released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) revealed that total subscriptions also decreased from 92,561,842 in February to 92,033,267 in March.
With 92,011,259 total subscriptions in January 2023, broadband penetration rose from 47.36 percent in the last quarter of 2022 to 48.20 percent in January 2023. However, the data showed that broadband increased by 0.85 percent in the first quarter of 2023 compared to the first quarter of the previous year. Meanwhile, despite the proliferation of dual SIMs phones, Nigerian telecoms subscribers still port from one SIM to another. The latest data by NCC also indicated that a total of 6,855 subscribers moved from one network to another in the first quarter of 2023. In January, the number was 2,581, it reduced to 2,021 in February and later increased to 2,253 in March.
Of the four mobile operators, only MTN gained from the subscribers’ movements in the first quarter, while others recorded losses. The move to MTN is attributable to its 5G service, which offers higher internet speed. 4,765 customers moved from Airtel, Glo, and 9mobile to MTN in the quarter under review. Although the other operators also recorded some inward porting within the period, this amounted to losses when compared with the number of subscribers that left their networks. According to the NCC data, the movement was achieved through the Mobile Number Portability (MNP) instituted by the telecoms regulator, which allows customers to change their service providers without changing their numbers. The data shows Airtel also received 1,173 customers from other networks, while Glo attracted 620 customers through porting in the period under review.
The fourth mobile operator, 9Mobile, recorded 297 incoming ports in the first quarter. Just as the operators gained some new customers from one another, they also lost some to one another through outgoing porting. 9Mobile emerged as the biggest loser for the quarter, as 4,309 subscribers ported out of its network to others, while Airtel recorded 1,186 outgoing porting. Glo also lost 833 subscribers to other networks, while only 527 subscribers left MTN’s network for others in the period under review. From a peak of 22,539 in July 2015, the number of ports by mobile subscribers in Nigeria had declined steadily over the years to an average of 3,000 per month.
While the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) had attributed the decline to improvements in service quality, the telecoms regulator believes it is a combination of factors. According to NCC, aside from the quality of service, most subscribers equally ported to other networks because they wanted to enjoy the cheaper call and data rates on various promos offered by network operators. “The essence of mobile number portability, which the NCC introduced some years ago, offers telecom subscribers the flexibility to move at will from one network to another, while still retaining their original mobile numbers.
They will not be subjected to a particular network if they have reasons to leave the network, and that is the beauty of mobile number portability. “Subscribers port for different reasons, which include getting a better quality of service or enjoying certain packages being offered by another operator. Nigerian subscribers will continue to enjoy this right,” the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said.