MEET FRANK OSHANUGOR
The year 2022 was remarkable in Nigeria for many things, least of which is the appreciable growth in the VoIP segment of the nation’s telecommunications sector. For the better part of that eventful year, pioneer 4G LTE broadband service provider in West Africa; Smile Communications Nigeria Limited led the pack in this vital segment of the Nigerian market.
In the beginning, Smile Communications made it clear that it aims to become the broadband provider of choice to everyone in Africa and enable Smile customers to fully benefit from the internet world. Our vision is a connected Africa.
Currently, Smile services are helping businesses grow and individuals improve their lives using 4G LTE technology.
No doubt, Smile Communications provides 4G LTE mobile broadband in several countries in Africa. Our objective is to become the broadband provider of choice for SuperFast mobile broadband internet and SuperClear voice services in each of our markets and to provide over 300 million potential customers in our countries of operation with a fast, reliable and high-quality broadband internet to accelerate development and wealth creation.
To buttress the above facts, latest data from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has shown that active subscriptions for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service in Nigeria increased by 3.5% to 354,449 between January and October this year with Smile Communications championing the growth. Recall that VoIP Telephony or Internet Telephony as of December 2021, stood at 342, 473.
The two operators playing big in the VoIP market in Nigeria are Smile Communications and Ntel, but only Smile gained more subscriptions in the period under review.
The company gained 19,294 new subscriptions in the period, bringing its total subscriptions to 333,968 in October this year from 314,674 in December 2021.
Ntel, on the other hand, lost 7,315 customers in the period under review, bringing its total subscriptions to 20,481 from 27,799 in December last year.
NCC’s data showed that Ntel which joined the VoIP segment in January 2017, became the larger operator by subscriptions in just four months as its active subscriptions hit 61,817 in April 2017, while Smile was second with 42,308 subscriptions. Ntel has, however, lost most of its subscribers in the last 5 years.
Voice over Internet Protocol service allows its users to seamlessly communicate over the internet without the need for telephones. However, subscription to this service is still very low in Nigeria.The VoIP service remains one of the least subscribed in the Nigerian telecoms market.
According to NCC’s data, the GSM technology accounts for 99.84 per cent of the market share in terms of subscriptions as of October 2022, leaving VoIP service with 0.12% and fixed wired service with 0.05% share of the market.
Analysts attributed the low VoIP subscriptions in Nigeria to the proliferation of Over-the-Top services (OTTs) such as Whatsapp, and Facebook, among several others, which also allow voice and video calls over the internet.
This means that with a subscription for data, subscribers can make calls using the OTT platforms.
The global VoIP market was valued at $77.4 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach $93.2 billion by the end of 2024, growing at a CAGR of 3.1% between 2019 and 2024.
The adoption of Voice over IP is observed across various industries worldwide, especially in developing regions to cater to their growing demand for everyday business activities. With its real-time communication services, it has helped organisations across various industries to lower communication costs.