Telephone density rebounds as regulator seeks dialogue on sector’s challenges

In October, the country’s teledensity returned to 100% after an eight-month period of fluctuation.

The number of phone connections per 100 people in a given geographic area is referred to as teledensity. The term teledensity is frequently used to compare the availability of voice and data communications services in urban and rural areas, as well as between countries.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) issued subscription numbers for October over the weekend, which reaffirmed the increase in telephone reach, putting it at 100.56 percent.

In May 2020, the country’s teledensity was 100.6 percent, and in March 2021, it was 100.8 percent. It should be noted, however, that between May 2020 and March 2021, the teledensity grew to around 108.9%, with the highest levels occurring in October and November 2020.

According to the statistics, teledensity decreased from April to September 2021. In April, it was 98.86 percent; in May, it was 97.98 percent; in June, it was 98.28 percent; in July, it was 98.39 percent; in August, it was 99.18 percent; and in September, it was 99.98 percent.

It’s worth noting that the drop in teledensity coincided with the country’s restriction on the activation of new Subscribers Identification Module (SIM) cards and the reactivation of old ones. During the same period, the Federal Government mandated that Nigerians link their National Identification Number (NIN) to their SIM cards. During this time, telecoms companies lost nearly 15 million SIM cards.

Moreover, despite the shaky expansion of teledensity, many areas still lack basic telephone connections. According to the NCC, there are still 114 access gaps in Nigeria, with 25 million Nigerians living without access to telecommunications.

According to the data, the quartet of MTN, Globacom, Airtel, and 9mobile added 1,097,700 new consumers to the network between September and October. The number of subscriptions increased from 190.8 million in September to 191.9 million the following month. However, there was a significant reduction in broadband users.

While narrowband Internet usage increased by 112,101 from 140.2 million to 140.3 million during the period, broadband users dipped from 40.01 percent in September to 39.8 percent, with 219,002 consumers dropping off the radar. The total number of users has decreased from 76,365,158 to 76,146,156.

Meanwhile, Prof. Umar Danbatta, the NCC’s Executive Vice Chairman, has stated that continuous dialogue between the regulator and its various licensees is critical to finding long-term solutions to issues affecting licensees’ compliance with existing regulations and posing a challenge to the telecoms industry’s growth.

Danbatta mentioned this during the NCC’s 2021 Talk to The Regulator (TTTR) meeting, which took place in Lagos over the weekend. The discussion’s theme is “Improving Stakeholder Satisfaction.” Following the successful holding of a similar debate in Kano on October 16, 2021, the Lagos edition of the event was launched.

The goal of the event is to gather direct input from licensees on how the Commission is achieving their expectations as a regulator.

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The initiative was also created to identify areas for regulatory reform, highlight areas where licensees are defaulting, and address major industry obstacles that are impeding the full realization of the established goals for consolidating telecoms sector benefits.

According to Danbatta, who was represented at the forum by Adeleke Adewolu, NCC’s Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, the forum is being held in keeping with the Commission’s commitment to continue to ensure regulator-licensee interactions in order to develop collaborative solutions and implementation programs to the telecom ecosystem’s challenges.

“The Nigerian Communications Act (NCA, 2003) gives the NCC with the authority and responsibility to regulate both technical and market-related aspects of Nigeria’s telecoms infrastructure and services. The EVC emphasized that “we regard our position as a regulator to be very important in ensuring industry sustainability because NCC views consultation to be the essence of regulation.”
“We have constantly employed stakeholder engagement tools including public inquiries, private invest,” the EVC added.

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