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Telecoms operators connect 312m lines as 40% of Nigerians get 5G service by 2025

By Adeyemi Adepetun
31 October 2022   |   4:06 am
Within the last 21 years, telecommunications operators in Nigeria have connected 312.9 million telephone lines in the country.

5G mast. Source The verge

• Mupita assures of MTN’sinvestment in digital infrastructure, rural telephony
• 200m people still lack mobile broadband in Africa

Within the last 21 years, telecommunications operators in Nigeria have connected 312.9 million telephone lines in the country.

Data from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), which revealed this, showed that 209.6 million of the lines are active on MTN, Globacom, Airtel, and 9mobile networks.

Invariably, from the updated August subscription statistics from NCC, released at the weekend, it can be deduced that some 103 million of the connected lines are inactive.

According to NCC, a mobile line is considered to be inactive if it does not receive calls and/or access data services for 90 days, at the minimum. Such lines are separated from active lines, as they generate no revenue for telecoms operators within the stated period.

Further analysis of the August data showed that the country’s teledensity increased from 109.47 per cent to 109.99 per cent.

Teledensity is the telephone connections per 100 people in a specified geographic area. Teledensity is often used to compare the level of access to voice and data communications services between metropolitan and rural areas, or between one country and another.

MEANWHILE, Nigeria is expected to have 40 per cent Fifth-Generation (5G) network connection by 2025, as more digital infrastructure are deployed and newer cites are activated.

This was disclosed by the Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO), MTN Group, Ralph Mupita, in Lagos during an interaction with journalists, who just concluded the MTN sponsored Media Innovation Programme (MIP), a six-month capacity building at the School of Media and Communication (SMC), Pan Atlantic University (PAU), Lekki.

Mupita, who was accompanied by the Nigerian Chief Executive Officer, Karl Toriola, Chief Technical Officer, Muhammed Rufai, and Chief Corporate Service Executive, Tobechukwu Okigbo, said, going by the massive investments MTN has made and would still make in the deployment of 5G, “we expect 40 per cent of Nigerians to be connected to the technology by 2025.”

The GCEO said everybody deserves a connected life, given the fact that the Internet has brought the world closer than ever.

Warning that countries not investing in digital infrastructure would be left behind as the digital space keeps evolving, he said that was the reason MTN is investing, especially in new technologies, including 5G.

“We believe that 5G network is for Africa and Africans, and we are ensuring that we didn’t build an inferior infrastructure, but one that can satisfy the entire region. It must be noted that investing in digital infrastructure remains critical to unlocking the future and countries must invest,” he said.

Mupita said sooner, about five years from now, 5G would enable economies, including Nigeria, South Africa and other countries in the region, to accelerate their development.

On his part, Toriola informed that massive work and investments have gone into MTN’s deployment in the country. He said this is evident in some parts of Lagos, already activated, and other areas, including Abuja, Ibadan, Owerri, Port Harcourt, Kano, which are to be activated in quarter one 2023.

He disclosed that the firm would densify existing locations of MTN’s 5G coverage as expansion continues, with focus on where there are terminals already, demands for the network, and students population.

Speaking on why Nigerian’s are yet to see 5G signal on their phones, the MTN Nigeria CEO explained: “The truth is that Samsung and Apple, which are the two leading manufacturers, have a rigorous testing process before they release the software, unlike 2G, 3G and 4G, there was nothing like that.

“But for 5G, the two manufacturers are going release software that would allow MTN Nigeria users, specifically, to begin to see the 5G signal on their mobile phones.

“We expect this to happen in the next four to six weeks. You will begin to see the 5G signals on Samsung and Apple mobile devices, and you can test the speed to confirm what we have been saying.

“Let me also caution you, if you do a speed test, it consumes about 1.2G of data, this is just to inform people: it is not MTN that is taking the data, but the application.”

According to him, the faster the network, the more data to be consumed. He added that this is the nature of high-speed quality data network.

IN a related development, while some 84 million Nigerians are enjoying broadband services, the Global System for Mobile Telecommunications Association (GSMA), the global advocacy body for telcos, vedors and others, revealed that some 200 million people, still live in areas without mobile broadband coverage in Nigeria and other Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries.

GSMA, in its ‘The State of Mobile Internet Connectivity 2022’ report, disclosed that the SSA region remains the one with the largest mobile broadband coverage and usage gaps.

It stated that, as a result of continuing investment in mobile broadband in the region, the coverage gap reduced from 19 per cent in 2020 to 17 per cent at the end of 2021.

It said: “Almost 200 million people live in areas without mobile broadband coverage in Sub-Saharan Africa, but this figure masks important differences at the sub-regional level.

“In Central Africa, 39 per cent of the population (60 million) remains outside the reach of a mobile broadband network, while this stands at 16 per cent in Western Africa (64 million), 13 per cent in Eastern Africa (45 million), and 12 per cent in Southern Africa (26 million).

“In other regions, coverage deployment broadly stalled in 2021; at the same time, the percentage of the population using mobile Internet increased, thus reducing the usage gap.

“In these regions, the increase in mobile Internet use in the last year comes from people previously covered by mobile broadband but not using it. In 2021, South Asia and East Asia and Pacific had the biggest increases in mobile Internet adoption, which accounted for 64 per cent of new mobile subscribers globally because of the large population sizes of both regions.”