Nigeria’s 150.7m active phone lines face decline By Kunle Azeez

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  • As teledensity rises to 107%

Telecoms operators in Nigeria are set to witness a decline in their over 150.7 million active subscriptions as they comply with the regulator’s directive on Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) deactivation, New Telegraph has learnt. The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) had, on August 4, directed the operators to deactivate unregistered and improperly registered SIM cards on their networks and reconnect such lines after they have been properly registered by the operators.

The move, according to the regulator, was being taken to prevent the telecoms industry from declining into an emergency situation, restore discipline and ensure the protection of life of the citizenry across the country while ensuring a credible database of phone users.

About 37.79 million telephone lines have been sent to the operators for revalidation through the process of re-registration of the effected subscribers, following the regulator’s discovery that over 45 per cent of subscriber data so far collected by the operators are invalid.

“When we gave the operators the seven-day ultimatum spanning August 4 through August 11, the directive was clear: to clean up their databases by deactivating the affected SIMs and  two, call back these wrongly registered subscribers to register their SIMs,” he said, “For instance, when we gave the directive, we sent 18.6 million numbers to MTN for revalidation, 7.4 million to Airtel, 2.33 million to Glo and 19.46 million to Etisalat,” Head of Enforcement Compliance and Monitoring at NCC, Mr. Idehen Efosa, said in Lagos. However, while the operators have been sending text messages to the affected subscribers to go and re-register their SIM to avoid total deactivation, New Telegraph gathered that many.

subscribers are still reluctant to do so. “I have received a notification from Globacom to come and re-register my SIM, but I have been so busy to go and queue again to re-register. I don’t care because I use three SIM lines and I have not received any notification from the other two. So, when the Glo line is disconnected, I don’t care until I have time to go a register. I can use other lines,” said an Ikeja-based telecoms subscriber, Mr. Soji Badare, Another subscriber, Mr. Jacob Uche, said: “I have not given it a thought to go and re-register. There is no time to go and do that. But I still believe it is a stray text message not meant for me because I am sure I registered my SIMs well before now.”

However, some other subscribers, who spoke with our correspondent at the weekend, said that they had proceeded to reregister their SIMs. New Telegraph learnt that the reluctance by subscribers to proceed for reregistration of their SIMs on receiving notifications from their respective networks may create a total disconnection of their lines, if they fail to register within the on-going ‘grace time’ during which the NCC is monitoring operator’s compliance to the SIM deactivation directive.

“Though this is not fair to the subscribers who had passed through the rigour of queuing and getting their SIM cards registered to come and reregister again, we appeal to subscribers, who have received notifications from their networks to go and re-register,” counsels President, National Association of Telecoms Subscribers (NATCOMS), Mr. Deolu Ogunbanjo. Meanwhile, as the number of active telephone lines in Nigeria increased to 150.7 million, teledensity has also moved up to 107.67 per cent, according to the latest subscriber data released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for the month of July.

According to the NCC, of the 150.7 million active subscriptions, GSM operators including MTN, Globacom, Airtel and Etisalat control 148.4 million. Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), where Visafone the only active operator in the segment, has over two million, while fixed wired/wireless networks had 188,281 telephone lines.

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