…Commission’s TVWS initiative raises hope for rural connectivity
The Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) has reacted to the sustained growth in telecoms subscriber base and other indices in Nigeria.
The association’s reactions came on the heels of the latest industry update for May, 2020 just released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), showing improvements across benchmark indices that track growths and expansions in the country.
According to the NCC data, active voice subscriptions in the country sustained uptick to hit 192.21 million in May.
According to the NCC, active subscription to telephone had been on a northward movement since the beginning of the year, growing from 184.7 million in December, 2019 to 186.02 million in January, 187.44 million in February and 189.28 million to seal the first quarter in March, 2020.
The figure moved up again in April by 0.81 one per cent as 1.53 million new subscriptions were recorded on the networks of operators, followed suit in May by 0.77 per cent with additional 1.46 million new lines to stand at the current figure of 192.21 million.
The NCC data also show that of the current total active lines, Mobile Number Operators (MNOs) or GSM operators have 190.48 million subscribers on their networks, representing 99.82 per cent market share.
Other players by technology are Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) players controlling 0.12 per cent market share; the fixed wireless and wired operators have 0.06 per cent while code division multiple access (CDMA) have completely lost relevance in the Nigerian telecoms market, with 0.0 per cent market share.
In the GSM segment, MTN Nigeria is leading with 76.06 million active lines on its network, which translates to 39.61 per cent market share, followed by Globacom that has 52.06 million customers on its network to cover 27.12 per cent of the Nigerian market.
Similarly, Airtel Nigeria, which remains the closest competitor to Glo serves 51.5 million subscribers on its network, equivalent to 26.83 per cent share while Emerging Market Telecommunications Service (EMTS) operating as 9Mobile in the country controls 6.37 per cent market share with its remaining 12.23 million subscriptions.
Meanwhile, Visafone, whose subscribers now run on MTN network but is captured separately in the NCC data had 137,086 active subscriptions as at May, and this secured for it 0.07 per cent, the smallest market share.
Similarly, teledensity which stood at 99.96 per cent in April inched up to surpass 100 marks at 100.72 per cent.
Telephone density or teledensity is the number of telephone connections for every hundred individuals living within an area. It varies widely across the nations and also between urban and rural areas within a country. On the average however, it stood at 100.72 per cent in Nigeria as at May.
The commission also updated the industry data on active internet subscriptions and broadband penetration which hit their highest points in May at 141.16 million and 40.14 per cent from 138.73 million and 39.58 per cent in April respectively.
In his reaction to the latest figures, Olusola Teniola, the President of ATCON described the uptrend as welcome development, saying “it suggests that Nigerians continue to find the application of telecoms services to daily life relevant.”
He stated that this became more pronounced during the Coronavirus pandemic lockdown which warranted more reliance on data and other online services.
He noted, however that the rise in active phone lines for voice and internet does not represent individuals, but subscriptions, in which case a person may have multiple subscriptions.
He worried that while the numbers means that people continue uptake telecoms services as reflected in the growing subscriber base and internet usage, those responsible for these are concentrated in the urban cities of the country.
While there are many with access and multiple subscriptions in the urban regions, millions of their counterpart lack similar privilege, leading to saturation in the cities, he said.
Teniola then called for speedy implementation of NCC’s initiatives such as the television white space technology (TVWS), which bother on expansion of services to the unserved and underserved Nigerians, predominantly in the rural communities of the country.
The ATCON President also stressed that for this to be achieved, the operators would need to operate under a friendlier environment and be given access to forex which will enable them to import necessary equipment, among incentives.
Recall that the NCC had rolled out many initiatives to bridge digital gaps in the country such as deployment of television white space for telecommunications services in the rural areas in the country.
TVWS, as the name suggests, is the unused spectrum channels used for TV broadcasting. It is essentially wireless technology developed by using the very high frequency (VHF) and ultra high frequency (UHF) spectrum.
Earlier in the year, Nigeria had already made a giant step to bridge digital divide with the release of draft guideline on TVWS technology for rural broadband connectivity in a collaborate effort by the NCC and National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).