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Internet subscribers drop by 5.7m

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Zinox to link S’East LGAs with 1,314kms of fibre cable

About 5.78 million Internet users lost access to the net from December 2020 to February 2021, statistics from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has revealed.

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The February statistics released by NCC showed that the Internet user base, which was 154.3 million, dropped to 151.3 million in January and 148.5 million by February end.
   
MTN, which had 65.4 million Internet users as of December 2020, lost 2.6 million while Airtel fell from 41.3 million users in December 2020 to 38.9 million as of February, losing 2.4 million. 9mobile lost about 500,000 users. It fell from 7.1 million to 6.6 million, while Globacom, which had 40.1 million users by December 2020, lost about 400,000 lines, to end February with 39.7 million users.
  
Industry watchers have attributed the drop in general telecoms subscriptionS and Internet users to the Federal Government directive on NIN-SIM registration, verification, and linking, in which operators have been barred from activating and reactivating both new and old SIM cards.
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Within the period, many telecoms users lost their SIMs, and have not been able to retrieve the lines. Generally, within the three months (December, January, and February), about 8.4 million telephone lines have become inactive, resulting in a drop in the country’s teledensity. Within this period, teledensity, which was 107 per cent in December 2020, fell by 4.42 per cent to 102.7 per cent as of February.
  
Interestingly, the impact of the FG’s directive appeared to be more pronounced on some operators than the others. For instance, Airtel, which has maintained the second largest operator after MTN in Nigeria for the past six months, appeared to have lost that position to Globacom.
  
NCC statistics showed that Airtel, which serviced 55.6 million customers as of December 2020, has lost 4.2 million users, to end February with 51.4 million users. Airtel penetration in the country dropped to 26.3 per cent.
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Globacom on the other hand only lost about 600,000 users within this period. As of December 2020, Globacom boasted 54.8 million users and dropped to 54.2 million by February. The development has pushed Globacom to the second position after MTN, which lost 3.5 million users within the period under review. MTN had 80.8 million users as of December and dropped to 77.3 million by February with a penetration of 39.5 per cent.
 
9mobile is still fourth with 6.53 per cent penetration, having 12.9 million in December and dropped to 12.8 million by February. 

MEANWHILE, at the Anambra State Broadband Infrastructure Development Stakeholders Forum, with the topic, “facilitating Broadband Access in Anambra State through a favourable Right of Way Regime”, held at Awka, Anambra, on Tuesday, the Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, disclosed that Zinox Technologies Limited, the licenced infrastructure company (InfraCo) for the Southeast geopolitical zone will link all the 95 local government areas with broadband connectivity.

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The EVC, who thanked the host, the Executive Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Willie Obiano, his Deputy, Dr. Nkem Okeke, and all the other eminent members of cabinet for hosting the Forum, said the Commission in the drive for Broadband has licensed Infrastructure Companies for the South East and five other zones of the Federation including Lagos as a special zone.
 
“Under this initiative, the South-East Infraco licensee (Messrs. Zinox Technologies Ltd.) will be required to provide at least one Point-of-Access (PoA) in each of the 95 LGA’s that constitute the region and interconnect them with 1,314Km of Optic Fiber Cable (OFC).
 
“Right-of-Way (RoW) charges, is a major limiting factor to the provision of broadband services in Nigeria, as it slows down network deployment with the cost of the limited capacities ultimately passed to the subscribers,” he said.
 
He disclosed that the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), and the Commission’s Management led by his humble self are committed to keeping dialoguing with the Federal and State Governments to lower the charges to N145 per linear meter earlier agreed or waive the charges entirely.
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He noted that this is the path to progress in the government’s drive for Broadband propelling rapid roll-out of services and better the livelihood of Nigerians through the myriads of services that come with the Digital Economy where Fibre Infrastructure plays a major role.
 
“I must applaud His Excellency and Anambra state, who is one of the two states that have not just reduced the Right of Way charges offered to operators, but waived it completely, for this, we are eternally grateful. This action is sure, to put Anambra State on the global map of the digital economy.
 
“Result of study has shown that for every 10 percent increase in broadband penetration, there is a corresponding 1.38 per cent increase in GDP. This RoW waiver will also make Anambra State more attractive to Network operators and attract investment in the infrastructure needed to support the economic wellbeing of your Excellency’s economic jurisdiction,” Danbatta added.

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