Data Quality in Nigeria: who will save the day?
The fall of data quality
How long does your “monthly” data subscription last? Okay, let’s go back to the basics. Due to the increasing need for virtual interactions and internet usage as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, 3 of Nigeria’s biggest network providers experienced a tremendous increase in the number of internet subscribers during the 1st quarter of 2020 compared to that of 2019 ( 1194% increase for Globacom, 55% increase for Airtel and 19% increase for MTN), while 9moblie continued its decline from 3 years ago losing about 300,000 subscribers. As the revenue of these companies skyrocketed, nothing prepared Nigerians for the data nightmare that was to come.
Nigerians, left with no choice, began adjusting to the new normal of social distancing and working remotely. This led to an increasing need for data to engage virtual tools and software as these were the only way to keep busy and connect with co-workers, friends, and family. As time went on, Nigerians began noticing some changes. First, special data offers were cancelled. Later, even with the increased amount of data subscribed for, data started lasting for shorter periods of time. Initially, this was ignored by many Nigerians as many attributed it to their increased online activities. Eventually, it became blatant that the quality and quantity of data given by these network providers were no longer what it used to be. It felt as though the more data that was purchased, the faster it finished.
Although these network providers saw a surge in revenue in Q1 2020 from that of 2019, they complained that their revenue is currently under intense pressure. Value Added Tax (VAT), which took effect on the 1st of February 2020, was increased to 7.5%, voice revenue, which makes up the bulk of total revenue, is currently under threat and dwindling as subscribers now make more use of digital channels to communicate and the increase in data subscription may not offset this difference.
Who will save the day?
Internet service providers such as Smile, Spectranet, Tizeti, Swift, and NTEL are fast becoming strong rivals. Tizeti, so they say, is currently the only one offering unlimited data plans with no fair usage policy, no data cap and no data throttling, but many claimed to have gone through a horrible experience trying to use their products. The traditional network providers, except MTN, all lack unlimited data plans which are highly sort after and even that given by MTN comes at a high cost and with a data cap after which the network speed drops drastically.
The hallmark of a good business outfit is to identify a problem and solve it at the cheapest cost possible. I have said ‘cheapest cost’ because the majority of Nigerian consumers are very low-income earners who cannot afford luxury products. The ultimate curve here would have to be on turn out from affordable prices. Network providers must be proactive and aware that these changes are here to stay. Cost structure should be re-evaluated, and more flexible data plans should be created. NCC must regulate data less the quality of life in Nigeria would be worse than it is now. The quality and quantity of data must be improved upon, challenges notwithstanding. Nigerians are not asking for free data, but reliable and affordable data services. Let them have it for crying out loud
De critic is a leading Critic, Copywriting & Media PRs agency awarded one of Nigeria’s top 10 best by Sortlist International. Born from a near-death experience over a bad product/brand, De Critic was born to do two things – 1. Critique on brands, lifestyle, music and movies, and 2. help good brands do their copywriting and PR. De Critic, turning words into gold for you. – firstname.lastname@example.org