WITH a monthly growth figure of 1.1 million new subscribers to various mobile networks, Nigeria is now the eighth fastest growing telecommunications environment in the world.
There are now 57 million connected subscribers to the Nigeria’s five mobile networks of MTN Nigeria, Globacom, Zain, Etisalat and M-tel.
In a similar development, European telecommunications ministers have endorsed a plan to cap retail prices for sending SMS (Short Message Service) text messages and browsing the Internet using mobile phones while abroad.
In September, the European Union’s (EU’s) executive body, the European Commission (EC), proposed slashing both the retail and wholesale prices for text messaging by introducing caps of 0.11 and 0.04 respectively. Average retail prices are currently estimated at around 0.29 Euros, the commission said.
It also proposed a cap on the wholesale price for downloading data of one per megabyte, and called for further reductions in the cost of voice calls when roaming.
Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, reeled out statistics yesterday from the books of GSM Association, the global trade group of over 700 mobile operators in 218 countries and territories.
Citing Quarter one of 2007 as a reference point, Nigeria added 3.3 million new subscribers in three months thus joining the top 10 on the global mobile networks.
China’s 18 million, India (13.7m), Pakistan (7.6 m), Indonesia (5.3m, Iran (5.1m), Brazil (3.8m), Argentina (3.8m) are ahead of Nigeria.
Thailand (3.2) million and Russia (3. 2) million complete the chart.
Ndukwe spoke in Lagos yesterday at the 9th Distinguished Electrical and Electronics Engineer Yearly Lecture (DEEEAL 2008) hosted by the Nigerian Institution of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, a division of the Nigerian Society of Engineers.
In his 32-paged lecture entitled “From Telecommunications Back waters to a Regional Hub: Tracking the Role of the Regulator in Nigeria’s Telecom Revolution”, Ndukwe said the growth recorded in the sector has been fuelled by adequate, responsive and transparent regulation.
Specifically, he told his audience including Zenith Bank’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Jim Ovia, who chaired the occasion that besides the significant growth rate recorded, the sector has raked in additional investment in the excess of $12 billion between January 2001 and October 2008, and government alone has realised over $2.5 billion from spectrum auction.
This is besides import duties and taxes from telecoms companies, which have contributed substantially to the government revenue profile.
He said the beauty of the Nigerian telecoms environment was that it is open to competition through effective and transparent regulation.
The opening up of the market to competition in all segments of the industry has resulted in major drop in prices for telecommunications services.
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If the above figure puts Nigeria among the top-10 telecom nations in the whole world, I think we better ask ourselves another question to get a correct picture:
How many of Nigeria’s 57million connected subscribers are subscribing to more than 1-mobile network?
My own estimate puts the answer at a minimum of 50%, meaning we have at least 28.5million subscribers with two-phone numbers on two-mobile networks. I myself have three(3): GLO, MTN and Etisalat.
You might want to ask what I do with the three lines? My answer is:
1) Backup: everything in Nigeria needs having a backup. Each of my mobile lines can serve as a back-up to the other two, just in case the worst happens and two of them go down at the same time (this has happened several times). Besides, in case of emergency, its better to have more than 1(one).
In my area: Etisalat does not work after 11pm(night), while Glo ‘sometimes’ goes off after 1am. Both networks usually return around 4am. MTN is always online, however the reception is poor at night.
2) Poor reception: even here in Lagos state, there are some places/areas, where the reception of one network is better than the other. To keep myself always mobile and available, I manage to carry my three lines all over.
Another issue is inter-connectivity. A lot of times, it is hard to make an inter-network call, however a local(between same network) goes through without difficulty.
3) Cost: Reason number three: I have always wondered is why much discrepancy in the tariff structures of our mobile networks. I would rather call a Glo number with my Glo-line because it is cheaper than from the MTN/another network. Also, an MTN to MTN call is cheaper than a Glo to MTN. The vice-versa analysis of our 5-mobile networks are all true. In an ideal setting, the difference in tariffs between mobile networks should not be as wide as it is presently.
There could be many other valid reasons why the greater part of subscribers to Nigeria’s mobile networks have at least 1-other phone number on another network. Therefore, we cant really say we have 57-million mobile subscribers, can we?
Question: how many networks are you subscribed to?