2023: MTN, Airtel lead as active internet subscription hits 157.5m in quarter one


Internet service providers, the major mobile network operators, namely MTN, Airtel, Globacom, and 9mobile, continued to dominate the market as active subscription for the internet across mobile, fixed and VOIP networks in Nigeria increased by 2.7 million in the first quarter of this year.

According to the latest statistics by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), this brought the country’s total internet connections to 157.5 million by the end of March, compared to 154.8 million in December 2022.

The increase represents a growth rate of 1.7 per cent during this period.

With a combined total of 156.9 million subscriptions. Additionally, VOIP operators Smile and Ntel accounted for 340,614 internet subscriptions, while other ISPs contributed 221,267 subscriptions.

The steady growth in internet subscriptions indicates the increasing reliance on digital connectivity and its importance in various aspects of daily life and business activities in the country.

Meanwhile, broadband subscriptions, that is, high-speed internet service, also rose to 92 million at the end of the first quarter of 2023 from 90.4 million recorded in December last year. This brought the country’s broadband penetration to 48.21 per cent at the end of March.

The increase in broadband subscriptions shows that the country’s efforts through the implementation of the National Broadband Plan (NBP 2020-2025) are yielding results. In the plan, the government had set a target of 70 per cent broadband penetration to be achieved by 2025.

The rapid rollout of broadband services in Nigeria is expected to address various socio-economic challenges the country faces, including the need to grow its economy, expand the tax base, and improve digital literacy and educational standards.

Amidst the implementation of the country’s broadband plan, which started in 2020, subscriptions had declined steadily at some points for months as a result of the government’s policy on SIM cards.

From a peak point of 45.93 per cent in October 2020, broadband penetration in Nigeria slipped to 39.79 per cent in July 2021. Between November 2020 and October 2021, the service providers lost a total of 9.9 million broadband subscriptions.

Before the ban on new SIM in 2020, the country had been recording a 1 percent increase each month, as the mobile network operators continued to push for the deployment of 4G service across the country.