With the freedom granted to consumers to finally switch mobile phone networks without losing their phone numbers, the telecommunications space in Nigeria has gotten more interesting. Different people speculated on how many people had moved from their old networks. In the midst of this, nothing concrete was proven, at least not until Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) released official assessments last week.
The assessment revealed some interesting facts. According to the NCC reports, MTN Nigeria came off the worst, with a total loss amounting to 49% of the overall number of subscribers who switched service providers. Effectively, the mobile number portability scheme has provided subscribers with an opportunity to protest non-performance or unsatisfactory services they might have been getting from networks.
Nigeria, now with over 100 million active subscribers, is a huge market for telcos. As such, the numbers show that there is a vast field for competition, and networks which offer great quality of service, good customer service, loyalty rewards and other value added services, stand a great chance of coming out tops. Interestingly according to the ratings, Etisalat was shown to have had the least number of subscribers leaving, and the most number of subscribers switching networks to their platform. With a claim of 44% of total number of subscribers porting in the first month, Etisalat Nigeria recorded the biggest gain.
Many would remember the controversial ads which emerged on the same day the mobile number portability scheme was launched in April, popularly referred to as the “Saka don Port” saga. Well, the figures are proving that the reverse is the case, as MTN Nigeria lost with huge numbers while Etisalat gained more. The others find themselves in between with Globacom being next on the losers list with 23%, and Airtel Nigeria faring a little better than both of them at 17%. These are according to the NCC figures from May.
The quality of service being provided on the platforms seemed to have been the core deciding factor. Citing number portability as one of the gains of the 12th year of commercial roll out of GSM services in Nigeria, Mr Tony Ojobo, the Director of Public Affairs for the NCC, highlighted that the competition has gotten a lot keener, and this works in the interest of the consumers.
Although the figures are not permanent, they may just be forecast of things to come. Some say “Saka might have joined the wrong team,” but that takes nothing away from MTN Nigeria, as they remain the network with the largest number of subscribers. Arguably, they have led the way since 2001 when the very first GSM call in Nigeria was made. But even at that, the freedom to move lines from one network to another would see them having to tighten their belts if they are to retain the lead.
We can only look forward to subsequent reports from the NCC to be able to state categorically who leads and who lags. Until then, it would be up to the networks to up their game, and for the subscribers to determine if their best is good enough.