As Nigeria telecommunications‘ industry is growing in leaps and bound and impacting the economy, so, it became worrisome when with less than half a million lines on the eve of our democratic revival, today, active connected telephone lines are about 150 million, which have come with a contributing increase in tele-density, suddenly drift by loss of over 10m subscribers’ active lines, write Tony Nwakaegho.
The NCC’s website revealed that as at June 2017, the total active subscribers’ base recorded was 143,064,490 and 102.19 tele-density.
In a chat with the Executive Commissioner, NCC Stakeholders’ Management, Mr. Sunday Dare during one of the NCC’s stakeholders’ forum in Lagos, recently, he gave some factors that were responsible for this drop.
Dare said that a check on the NCC’s website, will reveal that the NCC has, over the years, been closely monitoring and issuing regular monthly reports on critical indices, such as subscriber numbers, adding that the trend that led to the decline did not take the Commission unaware.
He explained that from NCC’s data so far, the industry, which is also impacted by micro-economic factors, has affected the overall economy of the nation.
Economic recession, according to him, for instance, caused many households to reduce their spending on telecoms’ services, meaning people reduced the number of Subscriber Identity Module cards (SIMs) they hold as a way of controlling their spend.
The Executive Commissioner, NCC Stakeholders’ Management, underscored another reason to be that of first quarter of the year, which sometimes witnesses a drop in active subscriptions, since people would often drop SIMs acquired, especially for use in the remote areas during the festive seasons.
Another salient instance, he cited, stemmed from lot of customers who have been churned by the networks following the implementation of the directive to disconnect all unregistered or improperly registered SIMs.
The reclassification exercises, he disclosed, which is carried out by some of the networks to stop counting customers who are dormant, but only receiving bulk short messages is a factor that led to the fall in the drop in active subscribers’ line.
He buttressed that the impact of the directive from NCC for operators to only carry out subscriber registration in ‘controlled environments’ so as to eliminate the prevalence of pre-registered and fraudulently registered SIMs, has equally reduced the volume of gross connections across the networks.
Dare further attributed the downward trend in active subscriptions during the period to the issue of consolidation brought about by the Over the Top Technology (OTT), whereby the Voice over Internet Protocol now allows people make free calls , video and audio, once they have a data bundle or plan.
He stressed that this factor must not be treated in isolation, since there is a positive indicator that despite the drop in active numbers and data purchases, the industry witnessed a 41.5 per cent increase in the usage of data services between February and April, 2017.
The commission, he added, is closely monitoring the situation in order to introduce relevant interventions if necessary, since the economy is currently recovering.
Stories by Tony Nwakaegho