For the first time since it started publishing monthly mobile subscription figures, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has announced a reduction in both mobile subscribers and in the country's teledensity.
According to the most recent figures released, the number of subscribers in Nigeria at the end of September 2015 was 150, 660,631, while the country's teledensity (which was calculated based on a national population of 140 million) was 107.61.
Compared to data released in October, this represents a reduction of 357,993 from 151, 018,624 lines at the end of August 2015, while teledensity has also declined by 0.26 from 107.87.
The reduction is believed to be as a result of the ongoing disconnection of lines with incomplete registration details – a development that has pitched the regulator against the telcos, particularly MTN.
MTN Nigeria is currently in negotiation with authorities regarding the NGN1.04 trillion (US$5.2 billion) fine it received from the regulator for failing to disconnect over 5 million SIM cards that had been discovered to have incomplete registration details.
Industry analysts believe there could be further reduction in the number of subscribers if operators adhere to the NCC directive to continue to disconnect lines.
Latest figures show that despite the NCC fine, MTN remains Nigeria's largest telecoms company with 42% of mobile subscribers currently on the network. Globacom and Airtel control 21% each of Nigeria's subscriber base with 31,306,472 and 31,134,625 subscribers respectively, while Etisalat has 23,492,214 subscribers representing 16% of the total number of subscribers in Nigeria.
Within August and September 2015, the figures showed Etisalat gained 12,898 new subscribers while Airtel gained 5347 subscribers.