Monday, October 29, 2007

Nigeria - telephony

Nigeria: Telecoms Subscriber Base Hits 45.5 Million

This Day (Lagos)

The Nigerian telecoms market subscriber base has hit 45.5 million. The figure was recorded at the end of August, this year, as the telecoms industry heads for another major phase of its growth after the 2001 entry of mobile network operators triggered explosive service uptake in the sector.

According to the latest subscriber data obtained from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) by Technology Times, mobile operators still account for a huge chunk of the total subscriber base of 45,536,231 lines dominated by GSM operators with 43,066,679 subscribers as against fixed operators' 2,035,235 lines and CDMA operators' 434,317 lines.

Significantly, the regulators' latest statistics revealed a clear demarcation between 'active lines' and 'connected lines' in apparent response to mobile sector flaks that some players, in order to have competitive market edge, cite inactive lines as part of their overall subscriber base when making mandatory regulatory disclosure to NCC.

The figures also showed overall 'installed capacity' among fixed wired/wireless, GSM and Mobile CDMA operators reflecting the changes that have happened in the marketplace since last year when unified access service licence (UASL) was introduced to enable market players offer a bouquet of fixed, mobile, data and other services on the same technology platform.

Within the mobile space, GSM operators have the clear lead with 43,066,678 lines, while CDMA mobile operators recorded 43, 317 lines. On the other hand, fixed wired/wireless market segment records 2,035,235 lines to swell the nation's connected lines to 45,536,231 and teledensity to 26.47.

Within the period, overall installed capacity for all market segment peaked at 60,475,165 lines with GSM players leading with 57,608,525 lines followed by fixed line players with 2,331,640 lines and mobile CDMA services with 535,000 lines.

Significantly, the figures showed that Nigerian telecoms market has witnessed a phenomenon common to most telecoms market that have hitherto been faced by pent up demand: explosive uptake of mobile services followed by tapering growth in the market as the curve flattens.

In 2001, the year that three GSM operators, MTN Nigeria, Econet Wireless Nigeria (now Celtel Nigeria) and Mtel, went live with their service, the total subscriber base was 866,782 connected lines and teledensity was 0.73.

Of that number, the fixed line services, like NITEL and other PTOs like Multi-Links (now Multi-Links Telkom), Intercellular among others accounted for 600,321 while GSM operators had 266,461 lines.

If existing fixed line players have had it so good but recorded only over half a million lines prior to the entry of the GSM operators, the impact of the latter's entry was to be felt by year 2002 when total connected lines had nearly quadrupled to 2,271,050 lines and teledensity of 1.89.

GSM operators accounted for 1,569,050 lines from 266,461 lines the previous year. The fixed line market segment also accounted for 702,000 lines, a marginal increase over the previous year's 600,321 lines.

By the end of 2003 and with a few market landmarks like the entry of second national operator, Globacom Limited, that spun off its mobile business unit, Glo Mobile, to compete in the GSM space saw the introduction of per second billing and other market innovations like 'friends and family,' that were soon replicated by rival players, was beginning to change the market space.

Part of that change was the doubling of total connected in the country to 4,021, 9445 with GSM players then consolidating market lead with 3,149,472 lines and fixed line players accounting for 872,473 lines. Teledensity was pushed to 3.35 from the previous year's 1.89.

The consequences of 2003, the year that sector analysts perceived as setting off true competition in the mobile sector as the perceived 'duopoly' of MTN and Econet was broken by the more aggressive Glo mobile, was to manifest in 2004.

By end of 2004, growth in Nigeria's telecoms market has started arresting the attention of the international investment community as the large market size and explosive growth in mobile uptake saw total connected lines record over 50 per cent growth to peak at 10, 201, 209.

By this time, GSM operators had achieved a clear market lead with 9,174,209 lines against that of fixed line players' combined 1,027,519 lines more than doubling teledensity to 8.5.

Year-on-year growth was now sustained in the nation's telecoms sector by end of 2005 when total connected lines peaked at 19,810,258 lines and a nearly doubled teledensity of 15.72. By then, GSM players continued to assert their undisputable market lead with 18, 587,000 lines against the fixed lines sector's marginal growth to 1,027,519 lines.

By 2005, Nigeria had become Africa's telecoms market to watch sustaining its explosive growth by peaking total connected lines at 19,810,258 lines. Within the period, the GSM sector accounted for 18,587,000 lines while the fixed lines players recorded 1,223,258 lines to bring the nation's teledensity to 15.72.

Growth was sustained into 2006 when total connected lines became 34,010,174 and teledensity grew to 24.29. Out of that number, the GSM sector's connected line base was 32,322,202 as against that of fixed line players' 1,687,972 subscriber base.

By first quarter of 2007, total connected lines grew to 35, 938,180 lines with GSM players accounting for 34,240,613 lines against that of fixed wireless players' 1,697,567 lines growing teledensity to 25.67.

In the second quarter of 2007, total connected lines grew to 39,784,860 lines with the GSM sector accounting for 38,062,353 lines and fixed line base at 1,722,507 lines to bring teledensity to 28.42.

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