Globacom, Airtel battle MTN for dominant position

The duo of Globacom and Aritel are currently challenging MTN as the dominant operator in the telecommunications market.

The battle, New Telegraph learnt, has seen MTN, the largest operator by number of subscribers, shed its subscriber base over the last few months.

Although still maintaining its dominant position, MTN, which was at one time controlling 45 per cent of the market share, now lead with 37 per cent, according to March 2019 statistics released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

Analysis of the industry data showed that MTN had been consistently losing its market share since the beginning of this year.

As at last December, the company accounted for 40 per cent of the market share, but by January this year, its market share of had been whittled down to 38 per cent. In February, it further declined to 37.5 per cent and by March it had come down to 37 per cent, according to NCC’s data.

Analysis of statistics released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) showed that MTN lost 2.09 million subscribers between January and March this year. The telco, which had 67.1 million active subscribers at the end of 2018, ended March 2019 with 65 million active customers, according to the statistics.

Conversely, Globacom and Airtel had consistently increased their share of the market to hit 26.6 per cent and 26.1 per cent respectively at the end of March. The fourth GSM operator, 9mobile, has also gained new subscribers in recent time to garner 10 per cent share of the market.

Industry analysts believe that the two operators are capable of closing rank with MTN going through their current aggressive marketing strategies. However, they noted that MTN as the dominant player would also not relax to the point of losing its position.

One of the analysts, Mr Segun Salami, said the two operators are pushing out their Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards to people almost at no cost with mouth-watering offers to make them keep the lines active. He, however, noted that quality of service will continue to be a deciding factor on whether the subscribers will stay on a particular network or not since number porting is in place.

Meanwhile, the telecom industry’s data for March recently released by NCC showed that total active subscriptions across the mobile networks rose marginally by 156,335 to reach 173.4 million as against 173.2 million recorded in February.

While MTN lost 531,283 million active subscriptions in the month, other GSM operators, Globacom, Airtel and 9mobile gained more subscriptions. Analysis of the statistics showed that Globacom retained its second position with 46.2 million subscriptions, as it gained 199,186 subscriptions in the month.

Airtel emerged as highest gainer for the month, as it added 262,803 new users to achieve 45.2 million active subscriptions in the month. 9mobile also maintained its steady return to subscription growth, as it gained 107, 822 subscriptions, which brought its total active customers to 16.8 million.

Despite the marginal rise in the number of active susbscriptions, the country’s teledensity declined from 124.05 per cent in February to 91 per cent. This was however, as a result of the change in the population figure being used for the calculation.

Teledensity refers to the number of telephone connections for every 100 individuals living within an area and it varies widely across the country. NCC noted that from March 2019, teledensity is now being calculated based on a population estimate of 190 million as against 140 million being used over the years.

In terms of data subscriptions, the figure of active internet subscribers over the mobile networks rose by 1.2 million to hit 115.9 million by the end of March.

The data showed that MTN also maintained the lead in data customers with 46.5 million users, while airtel came second in data subscriptions with 31.2 million active users. Globacom had 28.4 million Internet subscriptions as at March while 9mobile had 9.6 million

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