AsNigeria’s Big Four battle for mobile data users, Success Kafoi of Technology Times reviews shifting sales from voice minutes to Internet packages
The race among the Big Four mobile phone companies for more mobile Internet users has already kicked off with shifting marketing away from voice minutes to competitive data package offerings.
[quote font=”georgia” font_size=”22″ font_style=”italic” align=”left” arrow=”yes”]With the withdrawal of the price restriction, telecommunications industry now has the permission of NCC, the telecoms industry regulator, to charge subscribers lower than the set lowest industry prices. Before then, there was a limit to how low Internet Service Providers(ISP) could go in fixing their prices.[/quote]MTN Nigeria, Glo Mobile, Airtel Nigeria and Etisalat Nigeria, the four biggest mobile phone companies in the country are now dangling tempting offers of mobile data service that make many market watchers wonder whether this will last or just stints of promotion to gain a few more subscribers.
More questions then came up. What would be the impact of this drop on the telecoms companies’ bottom line? If these companies still make as much revenue to keep them in business and maintain same and better service quality standards, why did it take them this long before making data plans this affordable?
It may not be out of place to partly attribute the removal of data floor price by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the telecoms industry regulator, as one reason for the falling data plan price in the country.
But the reality is that the falling data prices has more to do with the fight for bigger share of the subscribers’ wallets.
Blackberry has gained popularity in Nigeria towards late 2012 in terms of smartphone data plans. This was because Blackberry data plans were cheap, as most users could hardly exhaust their data before the expiry date of the data plan.
But the terrain changed when other cheaper Android smartphones like Tecno and more affordable brands flooded the Nigerian mobile market. For many, these relatively smartphones could do just what they wanted as some of these phones were not only offering lower price points, but also packed longer-lasting batteries. However, the high cost of subscription became a major problem for them, as Android apps consume much more data than good old BlackBerry apps did.
However, in October 2015, NCC withdrew the data floor price for operators in the telecoms industry. The regulator said that the step was taken to ensure sustainability, growth and development of the Nigerian data market segment. The so-called “floor price” is a government or group-imposed price control or the limit a price can be charged for a product to check unhealthy rivalry among players.
With the withdrawal of the price restriction, telecommunications industry now has the permission of NCC, the telecoms industry regulator, to charge subscribers lower than the set lowest industry prices. Before then, there was a limit to how low Internet Service Providers(ISP) could go in fixing their prices.
This was to trigger the beginning of the war on data plan prices by operators. The impact then was not felt as much as we feel it today. Airtel first made the drop in data bundle price, then Glo followed. Later on Etisalat joined. But MTN took a long time before dropping the price. However the case, the period of expensive data plans appear to be history in Nigeria.
Beyond the relaxed regulatory restriction that saw data floor price removal, one key factor is the fact that MTN, the largest mobile phone company by subscriber numbers, has lost an appreciable number of customers and is on the fight to regain its status as market leader in the data space.
In the first half of 2016, MTN Group, owners of MTN Nigeria lost 6.6 million subscribers in its business units in Nigeria, Uganda and Cameroon to comply with mandatory phone subscriber registration rules. This greatly affected the South African MTN Group, especially in Nigeria. In the local market, MTN Nigeria took a hit with a big drop in its subscriber figure from 61,252,387 in September 2015, to 57, 045,721 at the end of March 2016 (1Q 2016), indicating a loss of 4,206,666 active subscribers.
Unrelenting, MTN has started a pilot operation of Fourth Generation Long Term Evolution (4G LTE) network following the acquisition of Visafone to deliver broadband services to Internet users in the country. It was a move seen as a game changer in the Nigerian market and a move that also underscored the decision of the market leader, MTN Nigeria, to wage a new data war.
The table below shows the new price tag of data plans of the four major mobile telephone companies in Nigeria
|Internet Plan||Price (N)||Bundle||Duration||How to subscribe|
|Daily plan||100||30 MB||24 hours||Text 104 to 131|
|200||100 MB||24 hours||Text 113 to 131|
|Weekly Plan||500||750 MB||7 days||Text 106 to 131|
|Monthly plan||1000||1.5 GB||30 days||Text 106 to 131|
|2000||3.5 GB||30 days||Text 110 to 131|
|5000||10 GB||30 days||Text 116 to 131|
|10000||22 GB||30 days||Text 117 to 131|
|2 Months plan||20,000||50 GB||60 days||Text 118 to 131|
|Quarterly Plan||50,000||85 GB||90 days||Text 133 to 131|
|Plan Name||Price (N)||Data Volume||Validity||SMS to 127||USSD Code|
|Daily plans||50||30MB||1 Day||14||*127*14#|
|Weekly plans||500||1 GB||10 days||57||*127*57#|
|Monthly plans||1,000||2GB||30 Days||53||*127*53#|
|Plan Name||Price||Data Bundle||Validity||USSD Code|
|Daily Plan||100||30 MB||1 day||*410#|
|Easy Plan||500||750MB||14 days||*418#|
|Android 1||1000||1.5 GB||30 days||*496#|
|Android 2||2000||3 GB||30 days||*437#|
|Android 2.5||2500||5 GB||30 days||*437*1#|
|Android 3.5||3500||7 GB||30 days||*438#|
|plans||price(N)||USSD codes||SMS to 229||Validity|
|Daily 10MB||50||*229*3*8#||MI3||24 hours|
|Daily 50MB||100||*229*3*1#||MI1||24 hours|
|quaterly plan (30GB)||27,500||*229*5*1#||4M||90 days|
|bi-annual plan (60GB)||55,000||*229*5*2#||6M||120 days|
|100GB Plan||84,992||*229*4*5#||SM5||30 days|
|annual plan (120GB)||110,000||*229*5*3#||12M||365 days|
|1GB (weekend plan)||500||*5995*2#||friday 11:59pm – sunday 11:59pm|
Mobile Data: What can N2000 buy you?
The chart below shows the different data bundles for the N2000 monthly plans of MTN Nigeria, Glo, Airtel Nigeria and Etisalat Nigeria.