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Competition heightens as telcos lose 121,154 customers in MNP

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• ATCON to incentivize members to deepen investment
• Operators Q4 2019 result showed 3.09% growth

Poor services both in voice and data offering in 2019, which saw, especially prices of data crashing by as much as 70 per cent, must have forced some subscribers to dump their networks for another.    

According to The Guardian checks, some 121,154 customers exchanged their network providers in search of improved quality of service.  

Statistics obtained from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), showed that the quartet of MTN, Globacom, Airtel, and 9Mobile lost 121, 154 subscribers, but accommodated 139, 021 in terms of those who ported into their networks. 

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Introduced in Nigeria by NCC on April 22, 2013, Mobile Number Portability (MNP), is a semi-permanent means of moving a telephone number from one provider to another, and usually involves closing the old account. It enables mobile telephone users to retain their mobile telephone numbers when changing from one mobile network carrier to another.  

NCC in its released guidelines for MNP, made migration free of charge for subscribers, but insisted that subscribers could only change networks once every 90 days.  

Further analysis of the statistics showed that in the whole of 2019, Airtel was mostly affected with about 49, 867 subscribers porting to other networks. Airtel was followed by Globacom, which lost 32,327 customers. MTN and9Mobile lost 19, 535 and 19,425 subscribers respectively.  

But in terms of subscribers who ported into the networks, 9Mobile had the highest figure with 77, 492 telephone users who preferred the network over others. Airtel came second with some 30,026 customers coming in. MTN is third with 23, 851 users, while Globacom was only able to attract 7,653 subscribers.  

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Two subscribers, who spoke with The Guardian on their reasons for porting, cited data service slowdown and poor customer care service. They called on Globacom and MTN managements to improve their services drastically, and ensure further training of their customer care agents in the urgent handling of subscribers’ complaints.   

In an email chat with The Guardian, the President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Olusola Teniola, said the number of MNP requests since inception has reduced year-on-year and this is mainly due to the ease at which SIMs can be dispensed with and new ones easily obtained as most are prepaid in nature, so customer loyalty is low.

Teniola, an engineer, noted that MNP has also highlighted that the switch from one operator to another has not demonstrated any noted improvement in the perception of a consumer’ Quality of Service experience, “hence there is a need for improved innovation and effective competition based on personalisation of customers in between all the MNOs. Otherwise, there is really no need for MNP, unless customers on a post-paid number or with a strong affinity to their mobile number will be the only users of MNP.”

On the relevance of the scheme in a multi-SIM environment, the ATCON president said: “We really are looking at how we can incentivise our members to increase their investments in capacity management and extension of their respective networks with interoperability and interconnectedness a key component behind redundancy. NCC is also experimenting with National Roaming and looking at other recommendations in covering the many black-spots that exists in our expansive geographical landmass.”

Meanwhile, the MNOs last quarter growth showed a 3.09 per cent leap, 0.12 per cent more than Q3 growth of 2.97 per cent.   

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Specifically, MTN, growth put at 0.11 per cent in Q3 moved up to 5.26 per cent as at December 2019, while Globacom, according to NCC statistics fell from 5.62 per cent to 5.06 per cent. Airtel also fell from 6.49 per cent to2.61 per cent within the same period.   

Despite accruing a good number of customers through porting in the course of 2019, the figure failed to lift 9Mobile, as it went down further from-3.95 per cent in Q3 to -11.03 per cent in Q4.    

Generally, some 10.7 million lines were added to Nigeria’s telephone network in 2019. This made the country to finish the year with 184.7 million active telephone subscriptions. This resulted in 96.8 per cent teledensity penetration.   

Nigeria, which started the year with 174 million subscribers, deepened broadband by 37.8 per cent with some 72 million people now claimed to be having access.   

MNOs and Fixed Wired operators increased Internet users by 11.7 million, which made the country to end the 2019 with 126million online population.    

The statistics showed that there are however, 269.7 million connected lines across the GSM, Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), Fixed Wired/Wireless, and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) platforms.     

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