Nigerians will not pay for voice, sms again by 2019


With the right and adequate investment in broadband penetration in Nigeria’s tech world, telecommunications subscribers may need not pay for voice and sms services as it has been predicted by an internet stakeholder and investor that by 2019, data will rule and decide the game in the tech space such that voice and sms will become free as obtained in other developed countries.

The Managing Director (MD), Spectranet Ltd., Mr David Venn, said Nigerians would no longer pay for calls and Short Message Services (SMS), on mobile networks before the end of 2019.

Venn who made this prediction at an interactive session with newsmen in Lagos, noted that with the fast growing usage of social media applications, such as Skype, Imo, Whatsapp, BlackBerry Messenger, Facebook Messenger, telecommunications had allowed subscribers to use their data service to make calls and sms.

He predicted that before year 2020, data will be the ruler in Nigeria’s tech ecosystem, predicting that voice and sms may become free in Nigeria as is obtainable in other advanced countries. According to him, this is already happening with SMS with the advent of Whatsapp and other instant messaging apps.

“Part of the reasons we are excited about the market is that in the next two to three years, data will rule the game, because voice may be offered for free. It is already happening with the Short Message System (SMS) since the advent of WhatsApp,” he said.

“Some countries are trying to ban WhatsApp because the local operators are complaining, but it is something that has to be. We believe that data is the future and will be offered as a total package, where you buy data and you are guaranteed of free voice calls and SMS”.

Venn said subscribers spend a lot of money buying credit to make voice calls, send SMS and also subscribe to data services at the same time on a particular network.

He explained that even though subscribers still patronised voice and SMS services from the mobile operators, data service was cost- effective, faster to send SMS and make voice calls. Venn noted that presently, data service providers had been improving on the broadband network provided to customers due to increased patronage in the data services. The MD noted that in other advanced countries, mobile subscribers no longer paid for the use of voice and SMS on their mobile networks.

Already in the United Kingdom, mobile subscribers make use of Skype application to make calls, as long as the caller and the recipient were connected to data service on their phones. The MD said telecoms operators were losing huge revenue, especially from their SMS service, with the wide use of these social media.

With this mobile operators would be forced to expand their data network to accommodate the growing number of subscribers that use their networks to surf the internet. Venn therefore, urged mobile operators to improve on their broadband service to the undeserved and unserved areas in the country. He said the company also planned to build more base stations across its coverage to improve broadband connectivity in undeserved areas before the end of the year. Venn urged the Federal Government to make the business environment convenient for the data providers to operate. He contended that many data service providers had closed down due to the high cost of doing business in the country.

He has said the company aims to shape the way Nigerian businesses leverage the internet for growth through the deployment of infrastructure. “We want to shape the way businesses leverage the internet for growth through efficient pricing and deployment of infrastructure. Our focus is to serve homes and offices, which is why when you ask ‘What matters to you’, as Spectranet would say, ‘It is broadband’,” Venn said.

Venn noted that the internet has evolved rapidly following the advent of the video tools. For instance, he said on Facebook, immediately a user signs in, such user can start viewing the video without clicking on it but he noted that this was not the case about six months ago.

“Netflix has entered the Nigerian market and they are going to be bullish, giving satellite television or stations a run for their money. This calls for more broadband availability,” he said.

According to him, Spectranet is putting the power in the hands of the consumers through broadband provisioning to watch the videos at their convenience. “There is a lot more happening now with online videos, even on YouTube, but a year ago these where not possible; Nigerians were not getting the satisfaction,” he added.

He disclosed that Spectranet has optimized its network for videos, removing the bottlenecks and offering special services like the “cache video”.  The company has also extended its services to several Nigerian cities – Lagos, Abuja, Ibadan and Port Harcourt, with plans to reach even more cities in 2016 – a years it said is its year of growth. But he noted that the company is striving to ensure that as it expands and adds more users to its platform, it is not congesting its network.

To ensure that users enjoy good services, he said Spectranet is building more base stations and partnering with companies that offer tower services – companies such as IHS. “There is a jinx we want to break, which is starting well, but when the subscribers base increase, network congestion becomes a big issue. As professionals, we are determined to provide capacity to the subscriber with ease. Such ways is by building base stations that will be about 500 meters closer to each subscriber. At the moment we have over 300 base stations in Lagos, and where we are not able to have one at the moment we partner with IHS and others offering tower services,” he said.