Telecoms subscribers in Nigeria spend over N197 billion on internet data every month, Daily Trust’s analysis of mobile users’ average data usage per month has shown.
The big four GSM operators – MTN, Glo, Airtel and 9mobile – and other smaller mobile operators have a total active subscribers base of 149.3 million, according to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
The latest Monthly Subscriber/Operator Data released by the regulator last month showed that MTN had 58,121,427 users, and Glo 37,270,100 customers, Airtel 34,336,802 while 9mobile has 19,621,806 users. The remaining figures were shared between the other smaller operators.
But only 92m of the 149.5m subscribers are active internet users, and they depend on data provided by the telcos to access the world-wide-web and hook on to the social media, information on the NCC’s website showed.
As at June, MTN had 31.7m internet users, Glo 27.2m, Airtel 20.2m while 9mobile had 12.6m, and the smaller operators shared the remaining figures
Findings by Daily Trust from the four GSM operators revealed conservative estimates of category of data users and how much they spent on data monthly.
About 70% of internet users or 64m use up to N1000 data monthly each, raising the operators’ revenue base by N64bn.
Also, about 15% or 13.8m users, mostly small business owners and middle class people, each purchase an average of N3000 data monthly, contributing N41.1bn every month to the telcos’ coffers.
Similarly, 10% of the internet subscribers or 9.15m use N5000 each every month, growing the operators’ revenue by N45.6bn.
About 5% of the internet customers or 4.6m buy N10,000 data each, increasing the GSM and mobile internet companies’ revenue by N46bn, according to findings made by our reporter.
Over N2.3 trillion is garnered through data alone by the telcos every year, according to the monthly data revenue figures.
However, a study backed by Mozilla and carried out by Research ICT Africa on financial reality of internet usage in Nigeria said higher income users pay between $3.17 and $9.52 per month, whereas low income users pay as low as US7 cents per month.
The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has repeatedly categorised Nigerian telecom industry among one of the fastest growing in the world.
Its latest ranking placed the percentage of Nigerians with internet users at 11.40%, while about 50% individuals in the country are now able to access the internet.
The ITU’s Secretary General Mr Houlin Zhao said Nigeria was the toast of telecom investors because the country’s telecom industry continued to record quantum growth every quarter.
But the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has recently cried out, saying the activities of Over The Top (OTT) operators were seriously eating into their voice and data revenue.
OTTs are firms like Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media networks.
Engr Gbenga Adebayo, ALTON chairman, said if NCC did not act fast to salvage the Nigerian telcos from the danger posed to their operations by OTT, the telecom industry may witness a decline in fortunes.