Nigeria has increased its number of Internet Service Providers to a total of 258 after licensing 19 new companies recently. This increase in Internet service providers is projected to boost the penetration of broadband services to 70% by 2025.
However, ISPs complain of tough competition from mobile network operators(MNOs) like MTN, Airtel, Globacom, and 9mobile as they offer cheaper retail data options, thus causing challenges for ISPs’ retail data deals. It is important to note that ISPs are concentrated around the urban cities of Port Harcourt, Abuja, and Lagos, and this localization of its service to a particular area has become a challenge for ISPs
Reports from the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, indicate that previously 756 companies were licensed in March 2022, but only 188 remain active. This is attributed to be a result of unethical competition practices in the industry.
Nigeria’s government has a goal to bridge the digital gap between rural and urban areas and provide universal broadband access, and this has led the NCC to take regulatory measures so that smaller players in the industry, including ISPs, have a level playing field to thrive.
The NCC is set to introduce regulatory policies, guidelines, frameworks, and interventions, that encourage fairness in the telecommunication industry and incorporate an atmosphere of openness and transparency in industry practices, which will help promote healthy competition among competing licensees.
ISPs mainly service corporate bodies because of the deep penetration of Mobile networks in this market. MNOs recorded 156.4 million active internet subscriptions as of February this year, while the ISPs had 204,810 active internet customers.
The competition between Internet Service Providers and Mobile Network Operators leaves us questioning how smaller players cope and what the government will do to bridge the widening digital gap.
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