The latest monthly subscriber/Operator Data released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has shown that MTN tops the list of the users of the 3G technology with 58m subscribers, while Glo, Airtel and 9Mobile followed in that order with 37, 34 and 19million respectively.
Also, the data revealed that only 110,000 of 151million active telecom subscribers in the country have so far upgraded to the fourth Generation/Long Term Evolution technology, more than 10 months after a commercial launch in the country by four mobile operators.
A 4G/LTE technology is designed to provide up to ten times the broadband internet speeds of third generation technology for mobile devices.
Considering the huge number of phone users on 3G technology, experts said the 4G tech may have started sluggishly in Nigeria, portending a business risk for the telecom operators.
The remaining figures were shared between the other smaller operators.
But only 92m of the 151m subscribers are active internet users, and they depend on data provided by the telcos to access the world- wide-web and hook on to the social media, information on the NCC’s website show.
Out of the figure, a paltry 110,000 across the country is on 4G, according to findings from NCC and industry experts.
An industry source said that of the 110,000 on 4G networks, MTN has about 50% of it, with Glo trailing behind it with about 40% while Airtel, 9mobile, Ntel and other smaller operators share the remaining 10 %.
South Africa (63 % 4G coverage) , Morocco (60% 4G coverage ) and Tunisia (54% 4G coverage ) are the leading countries in Africa in the 4G technology ranking of some 80 countries across the world by OpenSignal, a global broadband advocacy group. Nigeria didn’t make the rank.
China has 4G network in most of its country, now it is working on 5G mobile network. “And it is nearly done”, Mr Zhao Linxiang, a Chinese envoy in Nigeria said.
“That may explain why millions of Nigerians are yet to use the new technology”, Deolu Ogunbanjo, a telecom activist said.