Telecoms companies in Nigeria have recorded a net growth as they succeeded in re-activating over 1.3 million telephone lines hitherto dormant on their networks, New Telegraph has learnt. Latest data released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) last January, showed that from 96.27 million inactive lines last December, the figure came down to 94.9 million or approximately 95 million at the end of January this year.
This figure represents the aggregate inactive lines on the networks of telecoms operators in the global system for mobile communications (GSM), code division multiple access (CDMA) and fixed wired/wireless segment as well as voice over internet protocol subscriptions. Inactive telephones are arrived at by subtracting the total connected telephone lines across mobile networks from the actual active lines as provided by the Commission.
Last December, the total connected telephone lines on mobile network operators (MNOs) stood at 241.3 million, while the actual active lines seated at 145 million, bringing the total number of inactive lines to 96.2 million.
However, last January, the total number of connected telephone lines were 242.2 million while only 147.2 million were active, bringing the number of inactive telephone lines to 94.9 million.
Meanwhile, the net gain of over 1.3 million that were hitherto inactive on mobile networks means a boost in revenue base of the networks. Nigeria faced a bearish trend in the telecommunications market throughout last year, as the number of dormant telephone lines increased significantly to over 93.3 million or 38.5 per cent since 2001.
According to reports, from the total of 241.3 million connected lines, only 145 million were active at the end of December 2017.
This indicates inactive telephone lines of 93.3 million, which is equivalent to 38.5 per cent of the total connected telephone lines in the country. From 2001 till date, the country has witnessed a geometric growth in telecoms subscriber base, having jumped from less than 500,000 lines to over 155 million active subscribers as at December, 2016, at which time total connected lines stood at 235 million. Despite having reached 155 million active subscriber-base in December 2016, a bearish trend where telecoms operators were losing subscribers set in last January, a development that also subjected teledensity to a dip.
Also, from 155 million in January last year, the figure fell to 154.1 million last February; 154.4 million in March; 149.2 million in April; 145.3 million in May and in June, the figure fell further to 143 million.
In July, active subscribers were 139.1 million and 139.4 million in August while the September figure rebounded to 139.9 million in the same upwards swing, which started in August, the figure increased to 140.7 million; 142.3 million and 145 million in October, November and December respectively.
The crash in active subscriber base between January and end of July represented about eight per cent loss of the total subscriber base in the country.
But analysis of the latest subscriber data showed that the subscriber loss was recorded overwhelmingly on the networks of global system for mobile communications (GSM) operators such as MTN, Globacom, Airtel and 9mobile, which control over 98 per cent of the total subscribers in the country.
According to the NCC data, as at last January, GSM firms collectively had 154.6 million subscribers. This figure crashed to 144.6 million by end of December, 2017.
Meanwhile, the bulk of the subscribers’ loss on GSM networks has been traced to wanton subscriber loss on the network of the recently-troubled Etisalat (now 9mobile) where its active subscriber base crashed from over 22 million to 17 million.
But beyond any other reasons, media speculation on sales of 9mobile, in particular, has culminated in millions of subscribers dropping their active lines on the network, according to the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, Mr. Sunday Dare.
Dare, who spoke at a forum in Lagos, had said that “the unconfirmed report being peddled in the media in the course of the sale has had a negative downturn on the company’s subscriber base from 22 million subscribers to 17 million subscribers. We should know that the sales process of 9mobile is still on-going and speculations will not do the already-troubled brand any good.”
Meanwhile, between January and December 2017, the code division multiple access (CDMA) subscribers remained unchanged at 217,566 throughout the six months but fixed wired/wireless networks’ and Voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) subscribers increased from 151,088 to 139,344 (fixed) and from 84,447 to 70,926 (VoIP) respectively.
Teledensity has also been negatively affected as a result of the decline in subscriber base dropping consistently from 110.80 per cent in January to 102.19 per cent at the end of June, but peaked at 103.61 per cent in December, 2017.
However, the January 2017 data released by the NCC revealed a good outlook in teledensity as this increased from 103.61 per cent to 105.21 per cent, while active subscriber base has also increased from 145 million to 147.2 million during the same period repetitively.
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