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GSM subscribers hit 148.7 million amid poor services

By on October 9, 2015

Subscription to the GSM networks in Nigeria has hit a record high of 148,703,160, investigation has shown.

Statistics obtained from the Nigerian Communications Commission in Abuja on Wednesday showed that the total number of subscription to all telecommunications networks rose to 151,018,624 by the end of August this year.

A year ago, specifically in September 2014, the total number of subscribers stood at 134,507,329 lines. This means that within a period of one year, the networks have added 16,511,295 lines, an increase of 12.28 per cent.

On the other hand, the total number of subscription to the GSM networks a year ago stood at 131,910,228. This means that the GSM networks added 16,792,932 lines, showing an increase of 12.73 per cent within a period of one year.

However, the Code Division Multiple Access (popularly referred to as the CDMA) networks shrank as the lines in the network decreased from 2,406,382 lines to 2,125,941 lines within the one year period. This shows the dwindling fortunes of operators of the CDMA technology.

Although the CDMA operators deployed by Intercellular, Multilinks, Starcomms and Visafone preceded the introduction of the GSM technology in Nigeria, the technology has continued to decline as the GSM operators have over the years proved that they have better resources and market plan.

Similarly, fixed services declined from 190,719 lines in September 2014 to 189,523 lines by the end of August.

This shows that the growth in subscriber base in the country has been driven by the GSM operators. There are four main service providers deploying this technology namely: MTN Nigeria Communications Limited, Globacom, Airtel and Etisalat.

The fifth holder of the licence for this service, Mobile Telecommunications Limited, is comatose as the investor in this legacy network that was recently privatised has yet to announce its market rollout plan.

The continued growth in the GSM networks may not be unconnected to the increasing difficulty that subscribers have been facing in recent times.

Our correspondent reports that subscribers, especially in the past three days, have had difficulties in making calls. Even when the calls connect, the rate of drop calls has been on the increase.

Attempts to speak to some of the network operators with deteriorating network glitches proved abortive, but operators have been known to overload their networks with subscribers that they do not have the capacity to manage.

The acting Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umaru Danbatta, had at a public function in Abuja last week acknowledged the problems being experienced by subscribers with the telecommunications networks.

He said the regulatory agency had stepped up its efforts to monitor and improve quality of service in the industry.

Danbatta said a quality of service task force had also been inaugurated to identify and recommend appropriate solutions to address the problem of poor quality of service from telecommunications operators.