Nigeria’s telecommunication landscape witnessed a high level of competition in terms of data offering in 2019, as operators in the industry show no signs of relent on efforts to increase their market share in a fickle industry.
According to data released by the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) for the period ending December 2019, while Nigeria’s largest mobile telecommunication company, MTN, gained 8.18 million data subscribers, Airtel successfully edged out Glo in terms of data subscribers, as the telco added 4.06 million subscribers over the indigenous brand.
MTN leads the pack ahead Airtel
Competition between two of Nigeria’s largest data sellers took different turns in 2019, as MTN recovered from the drop recorded during the year. It is important to note that in June and August 2019, 845.3 million data subscribers dumped MTN for other networks.
Meanwhile, in a complete twist of events, at the end of December 2019, the total number of data subscribers on MTN data network rose to 54.11 million from 45.9 million it recorded in January. This means the telco added 8.18 million data subscribers.
On the other hand, Airtel also recorded significant growth in the number of data subscribers in the year, adding 4.06 million data subscribers, taking the total number of data subscribers on the Airtel data network to 34.52 million from 30.4 million.
In terms of market share, Airtel continues to trail MTN, as the latter expanded its overall market share in 2019.
At the end of December 2019, MTN’s total data market share rose further to 68.8 million subscribers from 67.34 million subscribers recorded in November. On the other hand, Airtel’s number of subscribers rose to 50.18 million from 49.65 million recorded in the previous month. Hence, MTN now controls 37.30% of the market populace, as Airtel takes 27.20%.
Glo regains momentum, as 1.81 million subscribers dump 9mobile
Despite a challenging year for Globacom in terms of its data subscribers base, the telco still managed to add 1.81 million subscribers between January and December 2019. As reported earlier, 1.67 million internet subscribers dumped Globacom in November alone.
Meanwhile, in December 2019, Globacom recorded a significant rise as 1.61 million internet subscribers were added to the network. The total number of data subscribers on Glo network rose from 27.6 million data subscribers in January to 28.9 million subscribers as at December 2019.
On the other hand, 9mobile ended the year without attracting any data subscriber. According to the NCC data, 9mobile continues its steady decline, as a total of 1.81 million subscribers dumped the network for others. In November alone, 210,374 internet subscribers dumped the GSM company, a rise from 122,711 internet subscribers in October and 156,065 recorded in September.
Internet remains slow in Nigeria despite the advent of 4G network
The advent of 4G/LTE in the global telecom industry was accompanied by the expectation of fast internet speed. The 4G is the fourth generation of wireless mobile telecommunications technology, succeeding 3G. Potential and current applications include amended mobile web access, IP telephony, gaming services, high-definition mobile TV, video conferencing, and 3D television.
However, years down the line, Nigeria is still faced with poor internet quality. In a recent survey conducted on 4G services in 77 countries including Nigeria, Network monitoring outfit, Opensignal concluded that congestion is messing with the 4G user experience. Nigeria ranked 75 out of 77 of the countries surveyed in terms of its 4G speed.
According to Opensignal, the 4G networks enjoyed today are light-years from the 3G that kicked off the mobile data revolution at the turn of the millennium, but the networks have their faults. The biggest among them are inconsistency and congestion.
While GSM companies continue to jostle for market share, it has often come at the expense of poor service and lack of accountability. Quite frankly, as an average internet user in Nigeria, one is usually left at the mercy of poor mobile internet services which frustrates one to seek limited alternatives.
Nigeria’s internet download speed remains among the slowest in the world, and while the telcos continue to rake in heavy gains from data sales, consumers continue to groan for lack of fast and affordable internet services.
While reporting, Nairametrics sought random subscribers’ opinions to determine how 4G network has improved user experience.
According to an MTN user, “Since I upgraded to 4G, the network seems faster, but it sometimes still frustrates me. My expectation on MTN 4G is not close to being met. Also, it is a known fact that the data bundle burns faster.”
To an Airtel user, “Airtel data network is relatively stable, and I am enjoying it. Although it still depends on the location, I move to some places and it’s difficult to check my mail. More so, it looks like Airtel is competing with MTN on whose data burns out faster.”
According to a Glo user, “I use 4G on Glo, and it is occasional fast and slow at the same time. The only thing I enjoy is that the data is cheap.”