•Telcos wants big tech to fund network infrastructure
Statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has revealed that the South East region, which comprised states including Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo, recorded the lowest Internet usage in the last quarter of 2021, with 13.7 million users. This is even as over nine million people in Nigeria lost access to the Internet in 2021.
The NBS data, which was released on Monday, showed that in the last quarter of 2021, South West region had the highest online users, about 41.7 million, followed by North Central with 26.6 million. Troubled North West states had 25.4 million users; South South is next with 20.8 million Internet users; North East had 13.8 million.
On the operators performance, in the North East, MTN had 6.27 million users, Glo 2 million; Airtel 5.2 million and 9mobile 240, 787 users. In the North West, MTN led the table with 11.8 million subscribers, followed by Airtel with 7.6 million. Globacom is third with five million users and 9mobile 854,698 subscribers.
For North Central, MTN maintained the lead with 9.7 million users, followed by Globacom 9.6 million, Airtel was third with 6.1 million and 9mobile 1.11 million customers. In the South West, MTN serviced 15.7 million customers; Globacom users were 13.2 million; Airtel 10.4 million and 9mobile 2.19 million.
In the South South, MTN had 8.3 million users; Globacom 6.7 million; Airtel 4.9 million and 9mobile 750,664. For the South East, MTN subscribers were 6.93 million, Airtel was second with 3.2 million customers; Globacom 2.9 million and Airtel 596,752 users.
In terms of voice, the statistics also showed that Lagos State had the highest number of active voice subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2021, followed by Kano and Ogun States. Bayelsa and Ebonyi States had the least number of subscribers, according to the NBS.
Telecoms figures for Q2 2021 showed that a total of 187,611,501 subscribers were active on voice as against 196,242,456 in Q2 2020. This represents a 4.4 per cent decrease in voice subscriptions Year-on-Year. Quarter-on-Quarter growth was -2.50 per cent.
MEANWHILE, heads of some of the biggest European operators have published an open letter in the FT claiming Europe’s telecoms market risks falling behind rivals and that big tech really need to help out if continued network infrastructure is going to happen.
It is jointly signed by José María Álvarez-Pallete López, Chairman and Chief Executive at Telefónica, Tim Höttges, Chief Executive at Deutsche Telekom, Nick Read, Chief Executive at Vodafone, and Stéphane Richard, Chairman and Chief Executive at Orange.
Telcos have got together to make the same case before. The argument boils down to modern network infrastructure, which big tech has been able to get filthy rich from the boom in streaming and cloud demand.
In the letter, they claimed that data traffic is increasing by 50 per cent every year, and that operators have invested big sums to upgrade networks and increase capacity to keep up with it, inferring that they were the ones keeping the lights on during the pandemic.
“Continued investment is fundamental to ensuring the unrestricted access and participation of citizens in our digital society. But the current situation is simply not sustainable. The investment burden must be shared in a more proportionate way. Today, video streaming, gaming and social media originated by a few digital content platforms account for over 70 per cent of all traffic running over the networks. Digital platforms are profiting from “hyperscaling” business models at little cost while network operators shoulder the required investments in connectivity. At the same time our retail markets are in perpetual decline in terms of profitability.
“As things stand, network operators are in no position to negotiate fair terms with these giant platforms due to their strong market positions, asymmetric bargaining power and the lack of a level regulatory playing field. Consequently, we cannot make a viable return on our very significant investments, putting further infrastructure development at risk.
“With large digital content platforms continually pushing for higher quality streaming, the step-change in data traffic we’re experiencing will increase consistently without limits. If we don’t fix this unbalanced situation Europe will fall behind other world regions, ultimately degrading the quality of experience for all consumers,” the letter reads.