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‘Only attractive bundle packs, competitive tariff regime over MNOs can save ISPs’

There are strong indications that this may not be the best time for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the country when their service uptakes are compared with those of Mobile Network Operators (MNOs).

Otherwise, the growth profile of licensed ISPs in Nigeria in the last few years is facing a plummeting dive due to what experts described as paucity of fund to access forex in expanding networks as many of them have been boxed to few cities.

Apart from funding, the observed lower tariff regime of MNOs is not helping matters as subscribers dump ISPs in droves for MNOs due to the inability of ISPs to join in crashing their service charges.

However, pundits say some of the possible strategies that can help ISPs regain rise in subscriber base include coming up with attractive tariff regimes that can compete with MNOs.

Apart from salutary tariff regimes, experts say ISPs can also adopt strategic marketing drive tailored at specific target users with attractive bundle packs and promotions.

This may be one of the reasons that have kept Spectranet as the leading and most subscribed ISP in Nigeria in the last few years and still counting.

Only recently, the company conducted the last draw for the 2018 World Cup Promo it ran for both new and old subscribers.

Currently, statistics obtained from the website of telecoms regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) confirmed that out of the 219,117 connections, only about 126, 378 users are active on the Internet through the ISPs as at first quarter 2018 with Spectranet leading in volume of subscribers.

Further findings also revealed that out of 23 ISPs, including Spectranet, IS Internet Solutions, VDT, Cobranet, e-Stream, Cyberspace, MainOne Cables, Juniper Solutions, Backbone Connectivity, Hyperia, ipNX, Zeta-Web Nigeria, Ekovolt Telco Nigeria, Layer 3 Ltd, NetAccess Communications Nigeria, among others, Spectranet appeared most leveraged, as it single handedly claimed 193, 034 connections of which 115, 574 are active.

This is as the MNOs have connected 242.4 million lines out of which 162.5 million are active through the narrow band, the GSM technology..

Otherwise, MNOs, including MTN, Globacom, Airtel and 9Mobile, which have Universal Access Service License (UASL), have remained the major gateway to the Internet in Nigeria.

Also, when access from Point of Presence is reviewed, the 23 operators’ have 1,066, with Spectranet having 630 while Cyberspace Limited has 135 across their areas of operations.

In the last five years, records show that NCC had licensed 103 ISPs nationwide, but only 10 per cent applied for renewal of the licence.

In a recent Industry Consultative Forum, stakeholders identified a number of challenges confronting ISPs to include the operating environment where the MNOs were seen operating in both the wholesale and retail segments of the market thereby, under-pricing the smaller operators and taking their customers in drones.

Other issues hobbling ISPs include inadequate infrastructure and need for allocation of more frequencies to expedite deployment of data services); multiple taxation/regulation (the impediment in the deployment of data services by government agencies through taxes); type approval process (turnaround time for type approval of equipment is lengthy).

Also listed as issues, include marked disparity between advertised Internet speeds and actual speed obtainable on the networks; inadequate provision of redundancy by ISPs to handle network down time and lack of compensation for downtime; poor quality of service; inexplicable depletion of data services, auto renewal of service among others.

The snail speed developments around ISPs in the country have been blamed on so many factors, including the federal government’s inability through the regulator to review data price floor (DPF).

It would be recalled that previous effort by the NCC to review DPF was apparently shut down by pressures from both Nigerian internet users through the National Assembly.