Monday, 20 January 2014

Mobile operators lose 39 million lines




Digital mobile operators have lost a total of 39,768,994 lines to dormancy, investigation has shown.
The latest statistics from the Nigerian Communications Commission obtained on Friday indicated that although the mobile (GSM) operators had connected a total of 158,239,230 lines by September 2013, only 118,470,236 lines were active on the networks.
This shows a churn rate of 25.13 per cent. The churn rate, which describes the percentage of dormancy among subscribers in the telecommunications industry, has been on the increase in Nigeria.
As of October 2012, the churn rate stood at 13.29 per cent from a total connection of 121,660,815 lines and an active population of 105,913,889 lines. This shows a growth rate of 89.09 per cent in the churn rate within a period of 12 months.
By January 2013, the dormancy rate among subscribers to GSM telecommunications services had risen to 19.47 per cent from a connected population of 138,081,740 lines and an active population of 111,195,207 lines.
Experts have advanced a number of reasons as accounting for the high rate of inactivity in lines provided by digital mobile networks operating in the country. They include poor services which have characterised the networks in recent times.
Many subscribers have been frustrated by the poor quality of services rendered by the operators; they find it more convenient to abandon the lines rather than carry phones that do not work when they need service desperately.
Investigation also showed the concerned subscribers could switch to and from a network they considered problematic to another service provider.
Another reason for the high rate of dormant lines in the networks is the high rate of promotions aimed at attracting new subscribers.
Occasionally, these promotions produce many lines which the subscribers do not really need.
It was not certain as at press time the distribution of the inactive lines among digital mobile operators in the country. However, it is reasonable to expect that the churn rate is proportional to the percentage of subscribers held by the different operators.
The report showed as of September 2013, MTN Nigeria Communications Limited contributed 55,596,025 to the industry active subscriber base of 118,470,236. This meant that MTN accounted for 46.93 per cent of the mobile subscriber base.
Globacom accounted for 24,129,183 lines or 20.37 per cent of the active subscriber base. Airtel took 22,726,698 lines or 19.18 per cent; Etisalat had 15,759,810 lines or 13.3 per cent while M-Tel accounted for 258,520 lines or 0.22 per cent.
Between May and July 2013, the industry witnessed a steady decline in the active subscriber base of GSM operators before it gained a marginal increase in September.
By the end of May, the active subscribers held 117,765,609 lines. This declined to 117,412,363 lines by the end of June. It further declined to 111,866,933 lines by the end of July 2013.
The decline for a period of two months could signify that the industry was reaching a saturation point.
It could also signify that the Mobile Number Portability introduced by industry regulator, the NCC, at about that time must have started producing results.
The logic is that subscribers could switch to other operators instead of buying new lines as they would have normally done when dissatisfied with their current service providers.
Number portability is an application that enables subscribers to migrate from one service provider to another without losing their numbers. It was introduced in Nigeria in April 2013 as a means to keep operators on their toes in terms of rendering quality services.
Statistics released by the regulatory agency showed that Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services otherwise known as Etisalat had been the greatest beneficiary of the porting services in the first two months of introduction.
Etisalat received 44 per cent of all the subscribers that ported in the month of May. The proportion increased in the month of June as 50 per cent of subscribers that ported chose to pitch their tent with the mobile operator.
In May, Airtel received 29 per cent of the subscribers that ported. For the month of June, the percentage of subscribers porting to the network reduced to 12 per cent, the NCC said.
The proportion of subscribers porting to Glo Mobile in May was 17 per cent. This increased to 29 per cent in the month of June.
In the month of May, 10 per cent of subscribers that ported to other networks chose MTN. This varied slightly in the month of June as the operator received a total of nine per cent of all porting subscribers.

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