• Operator to leverage satellite tech for rural-urban telecoms services
As of the first quarter of 2021, licensed Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the country have connected some 338,028 users. Out of this figure, 182, 093 users are active, while 155,935 have remained inactive.
Statistics from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), which revealed this, showed that at the beginning of the year, there were 65 licensed ISPs with 1,658 Point of Presence (PoPs) spread across the country.
According to the NCC statistics, three months into the year, the five active ISPs are Spectranet, Tizeti, Astramix, IPNX and VDT. Specifically, Spectranet connected more subscribers, having 247, 635, where 117,252 were active users. The firm has 629 PoPs across its areas of service. The firm is followed by Tizeti, with 29,917 connected users with 14,591 major subscribers and 116 PoPs.
Astramix ranked third with 15, 000 connected users, 14,591 active subscriptions and three PoPs. 10, 085 of IPNX Nigeria Limited 14,064 connected users are active. The firm has 52 PoPs across the country. VDT has 58 PoPs, where it services 7,624 users of the 7,628 connected subscribers.
Other licensed operators include Cobranet with 3428 active users, Cyberspace 3682, Estream 140; Hyperia 1,389; Internet Solution 700; MainOne 1,476, Odua Investment four, Zeta Web 438, Skymax 209, Orange Business144, Dimension Data 590, among others.
Commenting on the situation, the Nigeria Coordinator, Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), Olusola Teniola, said 46 per cent of subscribers may have churned from ISPs and migrated to other service providers’ ISP offerings, which represents a loss of revenue from the ISP sub-segment to the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs).
He explained that the migration of subscribers from one player to another signifies the intensity of competition and challenges of Quality of Service.
According to him, pricing seems to be the major factor in winning customers and being able to establish a strong customer base. He said it appears that the ISP offerings of MNOs are now deemed satisfactory by the typical traditional ISP client, especially enterprises and SMEs and this has played a part in the steady decline in the customer base of the traditional ISP.
Teniola, a former president, Association of Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ATCON), said the niche play of their offerings reflects the numbers and affords a traditional ISP a higher Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) rate than the MNOs.
The A4AI boss said the market will offer more opportunities for value added services over and above voice and data and this is an area that will attract innovation and nibble players, “this is where the next level of competition will be witnessed.”
Speaking with newsmen recently, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, VDT, Biodun Omoniyi, said though the ISP space remains tough in Nigeria because of some challenges, players have continued to weather the storm.
He said, for instance, that VDT has gone beyond just rendering service as an ISP, but has moved into enterprise and wholesale provider of broadband services.
Omoniyi said the firm’s business model has been centred on data from the very first day of operations and is not threatened by the incursion of bigger players into the data space, even though they were predominantly voice operators.
“The reason for this is that our services complement that of bigger operators and we partner with them to provide quality service to customers. Currently the data market is expanding because more people are using data and we all can comfortably play in the data space. In the data market, the enterprise is even slowing down because most of our enterprise partners like the banks are not opening new branches while some are even closing down existing bank branches because technology has made it possible for them to provide online services that enable bank customers to carry out financial transactions online without visiting the bank branches.
“What we are doing in VDT is to do more retail business where we have more customers to service. We are deepening our presence in the retail market to provide data services to individuals,” he stated.
IN a related development, Sairtel, an ISP, is to leverage satellite technology to expand rural-urban telecommunications services. This development is expected to modify data prices for Nigeria.
For some areas like the NorthEast and others where the citizens need Internet services to remain compliant and run business but with network challenges, the management of Sairtel during the unveiling of its unlimited Internet Broadband, said they will leverage their years of experience and professionalism as an ISP to tackle most of those challenges.
It assured Nigerians of unlimited access across the country and beyond. The firm also revealed its preparedness to extend service to the insurgent ravaged northern parts of Nigeria.
Speaking to journalists at the unveiling of the service in Lagos, Chief Executive Officer, Sairtel, Salvation Alibor, noted that with the super-fast Internet service, data can be accessed from any part of the country, which will help solve the challenges that Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and ISPs face over last mile and right of way (RoW) issues.
“One of our unique go-to-market approaches is that our internet service is satellite-based and has coverage in all parts of the country especially the North East where many ISPs and MNOs have abandoned or are offering a very epileptic service. Ours is to fill in these gaps in those places that have challenges with topography.
“Our solution comes with unlimited downloads, no data cap, no throttling and no FAP token required. These have set us apart from our peers in the industry. With us, you do not need to worry when watching Netflix or YouTube videos,” he said.
According to him, the solution is based on K-Band satellite integrating others in partnership with global industry leaders like Hughes, YahSat and Avanti.
While assuring that the service offers subscribers options such as free migration and equipment, Alibor stated that the technology has been described as a trouble-free satellite with one of the best footprints in sub-Saharan Africa.
The company has also made it known that subscribers of other satellite services or extinct satellite companies can still use their existing equipment to access or migrate to Sairtel services thereby reducing the burden of purchasing new equipment. For schools and people living in clusters like estates and layouts, the company promised free equipment.
“Our philosophy is internet access anytime, anywhere unrestricted, whenever and wherever. Whatever you want to use the Internet for, be it for study, entertainment or education, the Internet should work for us, this is what we strongly believe in.
“Sairtel satellite Internet solution is all about affordability, reliability and accessibility. We believe that even if you are in the remotest parts of such far states like Sokoto, or impossible terrains like the Mambilla Plateau, in crisis areas like Borno, Katsina, Zamfara states or even in hitherto remote and unreached Nigerian borders you should have unrestricted and superfast internet service. We are changing the narrative of fast Internet only located in city centers, we are changing this narrative with our robust internet solution and that is what we are introducing to Nigerians today,” Alibor added.