Regulatory policy

Telecom Operators Lose 12.33 Million Internet Subscribers in 2021, Says NCC

The The number of Internet subscriptions fell from 154.29 million in December 2020 to 141.96 million in December 2021, showing an 8% decline on a year-over-year analysis.

This is according to the 2021 Annual Subscriber/Network Data Report released by the Nigerian Communications Commission on Thursday.

The report said in part: “In December 2021, the total number of active Internet subscriptions increased from 154,289,727 subscriptions in December 2020 to 141,959,496 subscriptions. This indicates a decline (of eight percent) in the total number of active internet subscriptions year over year”.

MTN Nigeria Plc recorded the largest loss of internet subscribers (6,546,878) in 2021. The company started 2021 with 65,359,306 subscribers and ended with 58,812,428 subscribers.

Airtel lost 3,761,109 internet subscribers as the number of internet subscribers fell to 37,526,624 at the end of the year from 41,287,733 recorded the previous year.

Globacom lost 581,390 Internet subscribers, as its Internet subscriber count fell to 39,525,269 at the end of the year from 40,106,659.

Others like EMTS, Smile and NTEL lost 1,367,386, 63,961 and 9,507 subscribers respectively.

Based on the figures, all service providers in the GSM and VoIP mobile technology segment recorded a loss of subscriptions in 2021.

According to the report, the reason for the decline is related to the suspension of sales, registration and activation of new subscriber identity modules.

The report said: “Operators attributed the decline primarily to the FG’s directive to suspend the sale, registration and activation of new SIM cards.”

In its semi-annual report, MTN said, “Mobile subscribers fell by 7.6 million to 68.9 million, impacted by regulatory restrictions on new SIM card sales and activations.”

The company, however, said it supported the government’s NIN verification exercise.

In one of its quarterly reports, Airtel said: “New customer acquisitions have been prohibited until significant progress has been made in linking the active customer base with verified NINs.

“Natural customer turnover led to a loss of two million active mobile customers in Nigeria in the first quarter of the year (after a loss of 2.5 million customers in the last quarter of the year to March 31 2021).”

The punch recently quoted the Nigerian National Coordinator of the Alliance for Affordable Internet, Olusola Teniola, as saying, “The impact of the SIM-NIN policy will slow growth. The NIN requirement will slow down the ability to legally register SIM cards which will affect the contribution to the NIN as not all Nigerians have a NIN.

Experts, in general, have attributed the drop in the number of Internet subscribers to factors such as ban on SIM card registration, NIN-SIM policy, telecommunication shutdowns, among others.

Despite falling internet subscriptions, subscribers consumed 350,165.39 terabytes of data in 2021, up from 205,880.4 TB in December 2020.