The Internet business being driven by telecoms firms was totally dominated by the CDMA operators like Multilinks, Starcomms and Visafone shortly after the liberalisation of the telecoms industry, while the GSM networks concentrated on voice and other value-added services.
Based on the latest figures by the Nigerian Communications Commission, both the CDMA and GSM networks have total Internet subscribers of about 63.65 million. However, the GSM networks cater for 63.47 million, while the CDMA operators serve only 177,783 subscribers.
The NCC statistics show that Multilinks, Starcomms and Visafone have Internet subscriber base of 6,508; 15,859 and 145,263, respectively.
This is against last year’s figures of 26,894; 63,198 and 87,691 for the respective operators. Between 2013 and 2014, Internet subscribers on the CDMA networks had further dropped by 5.7 per cent, while that of GSM networks rose by 96.3 per cent.
The latest data by the NCC shows a current figure of 63.47 million Internet users on the GSM networks, as against the 32.34 million recorded for same period in 2013.
The difference, which depicts an increase of about 96.3 per cent year-on-year, cuts across the four GSM operators, Airtel, Etisalat, Globacom and MTN, according to the report.
The data for February 2014 showed that 9.6 million Internet users for Airtel; 6.1 million for Etisalat; 14.9 million for Globacom, and 32.8 million for MTN.
For 2013, the figures were Airtel, 5.9 million; Etisalat, 4.3 million; Globacom, 0.78 million; and MTN, 21.3 million.
The latest subscriber statistics showed that the country connected 169 million telephone lines, covering the GSM, CDMA and the fixed wired/wireless lines operators, of which 127 million were currently active.
The GSM operators connected 159 million lines with 124 million currently active. The CDMA operators connected 7.6 million lines, while only 2.4 million lines remain active. The fixed wired/wireless operators connected 2.3 million lines with only 360,537 lines left active.
Also, Nigeria recorded a growth in its teledensity from 81.7 per cent in January 2013 to 91.1 per cent by the end of the year.
The statistics also showed that telecommunications operators’ total installed capacity, which was 226.6 million by January 2013, went up to about 248.4 million by the end of the year.
The Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Dr. Eugene Juwah, recently dashed the hope of a possible bail out for the CDMA operators when he revealed that the Open Access Model that the commission was proposing to operators for broadband investment did not take the CDMA operators into account.
He said if the CDMA operators eventually strengthened their network operations, they might be allowed to buy into the plan.
The fortunes of the CDMA operators have over the years declined and expectations are that the regulator could provide a possible lift for them, particularly as the industry is entering into the broadband investment phase in the nation’s telecoms space. [Punch]