The number of Internet subscriptions fell from 154.29 million as of December 2020 to 141.96 million as of December 2021, showing an eight per cent decline on a year-on-year analysis.
This is according to the 2021 Subscriber/Network Data Annual Report released by the Nigerian Communications Commission on Thursday.
The report read in part, “As at December, 2021, the total active Internet subscriptions decreased from 154,289,727 subscriptions as at December 2020 to 141,959,496 subscriptions. This indicates a (eight per cent) decline in Total Active Internet Subscriptions Year on Year”.
MTN Nigeria Plc recorded the biggest loss of Internet subscribers (6,546,878) in 2021. The company began 2021 with 65,359,306 subscribers and ended with 58,812,428 subscribers.
Airtel lost 3,761,109 Internet subscribers, as the number of Internet subscribers dropped to 37,526,624 at the end of the year from 41,287,733 recorded in the previous year.
Globacom lost 581,390 Internet subscribers, as the number of its Internet subscribers fell to 39,525,269 at the end of the year from 40,106,659.
Others like EMTS, Smile, and NTEL lost 1,367,386, 63,961, and 9,507 subscribers respectively.
Based on the figures, all the service providers in the mobile GSM and VoIP technology segment experienced loss in subscriptions in 2021.
According to the report, the reason for the decline is linked to the suspension of the sale, registration and activation of new Subscriber Identity Modules.
The report read, “The Operators attributed the decline majorly to the FG’s directive to suspend the Sale, Registration and Activation of new SIMs.”
In its half-year report, MTN said, “Mobile subscribers declined by 7.6 million to 68.9 million, impacted by the regulatory restrictions on new SIM sales and activations.”
The company, however, said it was in support of the government’s NIN verification exercise.
In one of its quarterly reports, Airtel said, “New customer acquisitions were barred until significant progress had been made on linking the active customer base with verified NINs.
“Natural churn in the customer base led to a loss of two million active mobile customers in Nigeria in the first quarter of the year (following on from 2.5 million customer loss in the final quarter of the year to 31 March 2021).”
The PUNCH had recently quoted the Nigeria National Coordinator for the Alliance for Affordable Internet, Olusola Teniola, as saying, “The impact of the SIM-NIN policy will slow down growth. The NIN requirement will slow down the ability to register SIMs legally, which will affect contribution to NIN because not every Nigerian has NIN.”’
Experts, in general, have hinged the drop in the number of Internet subscribers on factors, such as the ban on SIM registration, NIN-SIM policy, telecoms shutdowns, among others.
Despite the decrease in internet subscriptions, subscribers consumed 350,165.39 terabytes of data in 2021, which is an increase from 205,880.4TB in December 2020.