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Nigeria Ranks Low in Global Mobile Internet Speed Test



Nigeria Ranks Low in Global Mobile Internet Speed Test

Various policies and regulations put in place to boost internet experience in Nigeria have not taken the country very far when compared with some 92 other economies around the world with better performances.

Latest Data obtained by BUSINESS METRICS shows that as at January 2024, Nigeria ranked 93rd on the global mobile internet speed test out of 144 countries tested by Ookla’s Speedtest.

The data indicates that fastest internet speed in the country peaks at 26.74 megabits per second (mbps) download speed, 12.02 mbps upload speed and 27ms latency. This is below the global average of 50mbps download, 11.30 mbps upload speeds and 27ms latency.  The download speed basically measures the speed.

Nigeria Ranks Low in Global Mobile Internet Speed Test

This is despite the launch and commercial rollout of the fifth generation internet (5G) technology in the country championed by mobile network operators (MNOs) such as MTN, Airtel, Mafab, and others.

The latest speed ranking also shows that despite various fresh investments committed to network expansion and quality of service by operators, Nigeria was overtaken by 11 other countries as it dropped from 82nd position in the same period of 2023 to 93rd position in January this year.

Two of the leading MNOs that obtained 5G spectrums and are equally quoted on the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX) – MTN and Airtel – both disclosed recently they jointly spent N732.42 billion on existing and new technologies to boost their network capabilities.

MTN, for instance, continued its rollout of 5G, increasing its number of sites by 258.16 percent to 2,106 from 588 as of the end of 2022. Airtel similarly, Airtel said it now has 4G services on all its sites even as it increased its 5G sites to 235 as of December 2023.

However, the downtrend internet speed aligned more with a 70% fall recorded in capital importation into the sector in 2023 when the sector attracted $134 million foreign investments down from $456.8 million in the previous year, representing $322 million decline.

Ranking Does Not Reflect Reality

Reacting to the latest index, industry experts and heavy internet users said the ranking seems to be giving too much credit to Nigeria. According to them, the 26.74mbps mobile internet speed given to Nigeria can only be obtained at very limited locations across the country as internet users still contend with sluggish speed and delayed loading time.

According to Mr. Akin Olaleye, a mobile payment agent in Lagos, if mobile internet in Nigeria can actually deliver 26.74mbps, nobody would complain of bad network again. “With my 4G enabled smartphones and subscriber identity modules (SIMs), I’ve never enjoyed anything up to 20mbps let alone a speed above 25mbps,” he said.

Another telecoms enthusiast noted that while internet speed and quality of service vary from one operator to another, they also manifest differently on the network of the same operator in different locations, especially internet speed which has various generations and fidelity even if voice service is generally available.

2G Still Dominates in Nigeria

Latest report by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the country’s topmost telecoms regulator, shows that 2G technology still delivers internet to majority of users in the country.

According to the NCC, while internet subscriptions peaked at 163.84 million in December 2023, 2G covers 57.84%, indicating that at least, 94.76 million internet subscribers are restricted to the limited possibilities provided by 2G.

The 2G technology has limited data transfer rates, which means it could not handle high-speed data transfer. The technology is also vulnerable to interference and hacking, as well as incompatible with many new applications and services. This explains why 2G is not categorized as broadband or high speed internet, even in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, 3G and 4G which are advanced internet generations now cover 9% (14.75 million internet subscriptions) and 31.33% (51.33 million internet subscriptions) respectively.

NCC also reported that despite its initial slow takeoff, 5G subscription growth has been steady to hit 1.7 million users as at December, now representing 1.04% of total internet users in the country from a paltry 0.12% in May 2023.

Standing Broadband Targets

Broadband access is currently an important target for Nigeria with the government directing its regulations and policies towards achieving broadband penetration of 70% of eligible individuals in the country by 2025.

It is also stipulated in the National Broadband Plan 2020 – 2025 that by 2025, 4G and 5G mobile broadband should provide internet access to at least 90% of the connected population.

With broadband penetration standing at 43.71%, and 4G currently covering 31% and 5G representing 1.04% of internet subscriptions in the country, Nigeria still have a long road to walk if the broadband targets must be attained by next year.

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