Active phone lines in Nigeria hit 109.4m

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By BISI OLALEYE

Active telephone lines being used in the country has peaked at 109.4 million, according to the latest subscriber data released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). The data indicated that active telephone subscriptions increased from 107.3 million active lines in September, 2012 to reach 109.4 million at the end of October 2012.

Invariably, the telecoms operators added over 2.1 million new lines to their networks in October, becoming the latest industry subscriber base in the country from the industry regulator.  Analysis of the data showed that the Global System for Mobile Communications operators were the sole contributors to the current increase in active subscriber base to 109.4 million. According to the statistics, the GSM operators, including MTN, Globacom, Airtel and Etisalat increased their combined subscriptions from 103.6 million in September to 105.9 million in October, 2012.

The Code Division Multiple Access operators such as Visafone, Starcomms, Multi-Links and the near-dead Zoom Mobile further experienced a fall in their subscriber base from 3.2 million to 3.1 million in September and October respectively.  Like the trend on the CDMA networks, fixed wired and wireless network operators also record a decline in their meager active subscriptions from 474,345 telephone lines to 454,644 lines during the same period.  From beginning of 2012, GSM operators have continued to record astounding increase on their networks while the CDMA and fixed networks have consistently witnessed a decline month-on-month.

According to the NCC data, while active mobile subscriptions on GSM networks increased from 91 million in January to 101.4 million at the end of August, 2012; that of the CDMA operators declined from 4.4 million to 3.3 million during the eight months period. It was learnt that the GSM active subscriptions standing at 91 million in January, 2012, increased to 92 million in February and94.5 million at the end of March.  The GSM subscriptions continued upward growth reaching 96.6 million in April and in May, 2012, the figured grew to 97.5 million active subscriptions.

In June, July and August, the combined active GSM subscriber base increased to 98.3 million; 99.4 million and 101.4 million respectively.  However, active subscriber base on CDMA networks was hovering around slightly over 4 million between February and March but further declined to 3.9 in April. The figure further plunged to 3.7 million in May; 3.5 million in June and in July, it fell to 3.4 million and finally to 3.3 million at the end of August, 2012. On the fixed lines, the figure which stood at 688,333 million has, by the end of August 2012, reduced to 488,088 lines and now standing at According to the NCC statistics uploaded on the regulator’s official website, though the active telecoms subscriptions now stand at 109.4 million, the actual connected telephone lines in the country stand at 188 million.

Over the years, only the GSM segment of Nigeria’s telecoms companies have continued to witness impressive performance with CDMA and fixed line networks facing perpetual decline in subscriber base. However, analysts have expressed mixed reactions over the viability and success of a merger arrangement being put together among the CDMA operators – Starcomms, Multi-Links and MTS Wireless. The emerging merger of the three CDMA is expected to raise the performance bar of the CDMA industry where GSM player have also kicked them out of the business, due to the limitations of the CDMA’s technology.

Currently, the CDMA operator that has the highest subscriber base in the country is Visafone with about 2 million lines, whereas, the lowest subscriber base GSM network in the country, Etisalat, which came into the country barely three years ago, has around 14 million active telephone lines on its network.   Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone provided by Airtel Nigeria.

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