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Telecom subscribers drop By 9.1 million



THE National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) says Nigerian telecom service providers have lost a total of 9,137,415 voice subscribers in 2021

  The number of active subscribers dropped by 4.5 percent from the 204,601,313 active voice subscribers recorded in the fourth quarter of 2020 to 195,463,898 active voice subscribers in the last quarter of 2021.

In the last four months of 2021, the data revealed that a total of 141,971,560 subscribers were active on the internet as against 154,301,195 in the fourth quarter of 2020.

  The numbers represent a 7.99 percent decrease in the number of active data subscribers as of the fourth quarter of 2021.

Airtel had in its financial statement for the full year 2021 blamed the setback recorded in the number of subscribers to the Federal Government directive on National Identity Number-SIM linkage.

  “New customer acquisitions were discontinued until significant progress had been made on linking the active customer base with verified NINs. Natural churn in the customer base tempered the growth in active mobile customers in the nine-month period”, Airtel had said, which lost millions of customers.

  When the directive was made in December 2020, new line acquisition was discontinued.

  In the year, both broadband and narrowband Internet services also went down.  Last year, Internet subscription via the narrowband dropped from 150.8 million in January to 141.6 million by December 2021. Broadband subscription also dropped from 81.9 million to 78 million within the period under review.

As at the period, the sector contended with the enrolment and verification of the National Identification Number (NIN) to Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards policy imposed by the Federal Government, weak consumer purchasing power and Average Revenue Per User (ARPU). These challenges, combined with COVID-19, slowed subscribers capability at the time.

  The data revealed further that in the last quarter of 2021, MTN led with 73,594,682 subscribers, Globacom followed with 54,817,353, Airtel 53,926,886 and 9Mobile closed the year with 12,789,344 subscribers.

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