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Nigeria:Telecom firms gain in COVID-19 pain

Telecom firms gain in COVID-19 pain

Image from The Nation Online

Before the first index case of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic was recorded in Nigeria, Mrs Esther Felix usually subscribes to the monthly N1000 data plan on her mobile phone.
Without video streaming but reading and sending WhatsApp messages and checking her Gmail account, she even gets monthly data roll over.

But since the pandemic assumed a frightneing dimension and a forced lockdown became inevitable to tame the shrew, her story has changed. She now spends N8,000 monthly on data.The reasons for this are not far-fetched. A mother of three, the lockdown has led to all her kids learning online.

Mrs Felix’s experience is fairly representative of the experiences of workers, parents, churches, mosques and other business organisations across the country that have been compelled to learn, work, preach and work remotely from home.

Today, there are various clusters of social  platforms, such as,,,, Instagram Live; Facebook Live and LinkedIn Live. Others that have enabled virtual meetings, conferences and other engagements are Microsoft Team,  and Google MEET.

Internet traffic has gone up sharply, no thanks to the pandemic. And this has translated to huge cash to the wallet of mobile network operators (MNOs).

According to the Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN), the country’s internet gateway,  internet traffic has increased by about 15 per cent.

Its Chief Executive Officer, Muhammed Rudman, said the figures fluctuate, with a larger percentage of the spike seen in urban areas. He added that the MNOs which serve end users have largely profited from the increase.

Rudman, however, said Internet Service Providers (ISPs), especially the Tier 2 operators, which service corporate bodies and enterprises had not seen any rise in traffic “because companies are not currently operating.Their customers are not at work because of the lockdown.

“Some ISPs, like MTN, have direct end user customers. Of course, they have enterprises they service as well, but they concentrate more on the end users.Others like Spectranet, Internet Solutions, which deal with corporate bodies, are experiencing lull in traffic.

For some of them, traffic has dropped. But for those dealing with end users, the traffic has been rising. The 15 per cent is the aggregate increase in traffic monitored by IXPN in the last few weeks,” he was quoted to have explained.

He said the increase in traffic would translate to revenue increase for operators because people want to stay connected with their loved ones in and out of the country.

The President, Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCO), Olusola Teniola,  said the increased data usage demonstrates that the traffic management and Quality of Service (QoS) are focus points in the industry.

He said the data demand originated from high usage of over the top (OTT) applications and other collaborative tools and adoption of virtual e-learning systems from homes.

This, he said, generates the requests and some uploads of content and mostly downloads from heavy data content providers offering video and/or live streaming services.

Teniola said the data traffic contributed to an increase of usage on YouTube platform where most live church or mosque programmes were hosted for viewing.

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