This came as the third consecutive month of loss for the mobile operators, having recorded a 1% decline in subscriptions in April, and a 0.4% decline in March. As of April, active subscriptions across the networks of MTN, Glo, Airtel, and 9mobile stood at 223.3 million.
This showed that the country’s mobile subscriptions database plunged by 2.4 million in May.
An analysis of the operators’ data showed that the decline in the subscription data was caused by a 3 million subscription loss recorded by MTN. The reduction in the telco’s active subscriptions is attributable to the abandonment of SIMs that have not been linked with the National Identification Number (NIN) as mandated by the government.
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With the decline in actively connected lines recorded by the operators, the country’s teledensity, which measures the number of active telephone connections per 100 inhabitants living within an area, also slumped to 115.91% in May from 117.17% recorded in April. According to NCC, the teledensity is calculated based on a population estimate of 190 million.
The NCC’s statistics show that MTN, which is the largest operator by subscriber number, pulled down the total industry database with a 3 million decline in its subscriptions. This brought its total active subscriptions to 85.6 million from 88.6 million it recorded in April 2023.
- However, Glo recorded a 225,714 increase in subscriptions in the month. With this, the operator was able to maintain its position as the second-largest operator by subscriber number in May 2023. The new activations on the network brought Glo’s total subscriptions to 2 million from 60.9 million recorded in April this year.
- Airtel also recorded an increase of 195,923 in its subscriptions database for the month, which brought its total subscriptions to 60.5 million from 60.3 million in April.
- 9mobile recorded the highest gain in May as its database grew by 257,320. This brought its total active subscriptions to 13.7 million from the 13.4 million it had in April.
Looming SIMs deactivation
The decline in active mobile subscriptions is coming amid a recent directive by the NCC to the telecom operators to deactivate any line that has not been used for any revenue-generating activity for 6 months.
This directive is contained in a new Quality of Service Business Rules released by the telecom regulator. According to the Commission, the owner of the line would have another 6 months to re-activate the same line, failure upon which he or she loses the line completely.
The latest directive from the telecom regulator may not be unconnected with the rising number of inactive lines across mobile networks. According to NCC’s subscriber data, unused or abandoned lines across MTN, Airtel, Globacom, and 9mobile networks increased to 96.7 million in February this year.
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The NCC data revealed that the four mobile network operators had a total of N323.6 million connected lines as of February this year. However, active lines across the networks at the end of the month stood at 226.8 million.