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COVID-19 spikes SMS traffic as customers send over one billion in a month


Lockdown triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the usage of short message service (SMS) in the country, as subscribers were discovered to have sent over one billion within a month

Though, they were largely free, checks on some of the operators revealed the rate of how customers made use of the SMS platform to send messages across to one another.

For instance, a check on MTN, showed that within five weeks of the lockdown, which made people to work remotely, over one billion free text messages were sent by customers within the first four weeks of introducing the offer! The free SMS package allows MTN Nigeria subscribers across the country to send 10 free SMS daily for 30 days to all networks.


With the cost of an SMS pegged at N4, it means that if customers were to pay, they would have expended about N4 billion on text messages in the first month alone. Predicting what will happen in the next two months will be next to impossible however, the promise to offer SMS incentives was based on statistics which shows that over 30 per cent of MTN customers are not data subscribers and are among the most vulnerable Nigerians being severely impacted by the virus outbreak.

Other incentives available to the about 70 million MTN customers during the period include free 100MB daily to access verified information on health platforms such as Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), World Health Organisation (WHO) and educational materials on MTN’s Teens platform, mPulse.

In addition, the company suspended transaction fees for all Cash2Cash transfers via its Mobile Money (MoMo) Agent Network.


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