The number of companies providing internet services in Nigeria has increased to 225 as of September 2022 from 187 recorded in December 2021.
According to the updated list of licensees just published by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) 38 more companies have been licensed since the beginning to bridge the internet access gaps in the country.
The newly licensed companies include Elon Musk’s company, Starlink, whose licence was approved by the telecom regulator in May this year.
While other licensees will be leveraging the existing bandwidth capacity in-country to provide last-mile connectivity for Nigerians.
Starlink, which is expected to launch its service this month, will be deploying its satellite technology to provide internet service across Nigeria.
The rising number of ISPs is expected to boost the country’s broadband penetration target of 70% by 2025.
However, locations of the service providers show that most are still concentrated in the urban areas, as the digital gap between urban and rural Nigeria continues to widen.
NCC’s ISPs data showed that the Internet Service Providers are concentrated in Abuja, Lagos, and Port Harcourt.
The new service providers are coming amidst complaints by the old players over the stiff competition with the Mobile Network Operators.
The ISPs have been blaming the bigger operators, especially the likes of MTN, Globacom, Airtel, and 9mobile for their woes as the operation of the mobile network operators in the retail data market with cheaper prices is said to be the bane of the ISP businesses.
Speaking on behalf of the service providers recently, the Chief Executive Officer of VDT Communications Limited, Mr. David Omoniyi appealed to the government to come to the aid of the business.
According to him, the ISPs who could be classified as Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the telecoms market are dying by the day.
“Indigenous ISPs are disappearing, more than 200 have been licensed so far by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), but only a few of them are still operating. They are largely SMEs and need support to survive,” he said.
While emphasizing the role of the ISPs in the country’s quest for ubiquitous broadband, Omoniyi added that the implementation of the National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 requires the input of every stakeholder to succeed, hence the ISPs, which play significant roles in taking the services to the last mile must be supported.
“We need to carry everybody along and one way is to keep the ISPs alive. We need the majority of them around to keep employing people and to take the service closer to the people.
“There is a need for targeted intervention for them to survive,” he added.
While Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) such as MTN, Airtel, Globacom, and 9mobile are also offering Internet service alongside voice and other services as permitted by the Universal Access Service Licence (UASL), the ISPs are licensed to provide internet service only.
Due to the domination of the mobile operators in the market, the ISPs are mainly servicing the corporate segment of the market.
The MNOs as of July this year had a total of 151 million active internet subscriptions, while the core ISPs had 210,597 active internet customers.