By January ending, the players have lost 605,586 subscribers as a result of the difference between 91.88 million in December and January figure of 91.27 million. The loss came to 1.27 million at the end of February because of the fall from 91.27 million to 89.99 million.Further analysis of the NCC statistics revealed that the Internet users on both GSM technology platforms and Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), networks dropped from 91,304,755 in January to 90,029,182 in February.
It also showed that, of the 90,029,182 Internet users in February, 89,998,873 were on GSM networks, while 30,309 were on CDMA networks.
The data revealed that MTN had 30,300,705 subscribers browsing the Internet on its network in the month under review. MTN recorded a drop of 714,700 subscribers in February after recording 31,015,405 in January.
According to the data, Globacom had 26,932,485 customers surfing the net on its network in February, revealing a decline of 143,787 users from the 27,076,272 who surfed the internet on the network in January.
Airtel had 19,468,684 Internet users in February, reducing by 149,801, and the number of customers in its January record of 19,618,485.
The data also showed that Etisalat had 13,296,999 customers who browsed the internet in February. It recorded a decrease of 267,285 users from the 13,564,284 users it recorded in January.
The NCC data revealed that the CDMA operators, Multi-Links and Visafone, had a joint total of 30,309 Internet users on their networks in February, maintaining their January record.
Commenting on the slide, the President, National Association of Telecoms Subscribers of Nigeria (NATCOMS), Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, in a telephone interview with The Guardian, said it was unfortunate that at a time like this, Nigeria is experiencing a dip in penetration.
Ogunbanjo said as nation, there is a need to develop policies that would bring people online because it is going to be positive on the economy.
“A situation where government is considering increase in data price and imposition of nine per cent Communication Service Tax (CST) on users should be discouraged totally. Once again, we are saying data price should fall,” he stated.
Ogunbanjo, who also stressed that the economic situation in the country is also having negative impact on subscribers, noted that users are not discarding their SIMs, “they rather do welcome back with the operators if need be.”
According to him, the figure would continue to fluctuate until there is a kind of stability in the economy and availability of disposable income.
Like Ogunbanjo, another telecoms expert, Kehinde Aluko, said the huge drop could be as a result of the biting economic times in the country that has seen a huge drop in the living standards of Nigerians and a diversion of resources towards food and other essentials for survival.
Beyond the issue of economic challenges, The Guardian also gathered that it could be that Internet subscribers are jettison the services of the quartet of MTN, Globacom, Airtel and Etisalat, which they considered not being reliable and which still run majorly on narrow-band to operators, whose core businesses are data services like Spectranet, Smile, Swift, nTel and others.
Meanwhile, the Internet Society said the slowdown in Internet growth rates, particularly in regions that were already falling behind the global average, lends urgency to the group’s objective to connect the unconnected.