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COVID-19 Pushes Number of Active Internet Users to Peak   

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 The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has pushed the number of active internet users in Nigeria to the peak even as over 700 million Nigerians were on the internet during the lockdown absorbed in different engagements.

The Nigeria Communications Commission [NCC] figures revealed that from January till May during the coronavirus crisis a total of 700 million subscribers were active on the internet via the GSM technology. During the same period, VoIP had 1,831,877 active subscribers while the fixed wireless operators had 49,509 active subscribers.

In Nigeria, the federal and state governments from April to May imposed a blanket lockdown that limit people from leaving their homes while employees are restricted to working from their homes. Only the essential workers were allowed free movement.

The official figure released recently by the NCC indicated the number of active internet subscription by technology from June 2019 to May 2020 with over 140 million GSM customers recorded in the month of May during the coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria.

NCC regularly conducts studies and surveys and produces reports on the telecommunications industry, the Internet Subscriber Data is the latest on the Nigerian telecommunications industry.

The official Internet Subscriber Data gleaned from the NCC website informed that from the month of January to May 2020 about 700 million subscribers were active on the internet.

“The figure is information on the number of active subscribers for data (internet) services on each of the licensed service providers utilizing the different technologies, i.e. GSM, Fixed wireless, VoIP and CDMA”, a statement from the NCC website informed.

The breakdown of the figures for the GSM technology showed that in 2020 of May 140, 761, 851 subscribers were active on the internet. Meanwhile in April the figure was 138, 342,770 subscribers. In March, February and January a total of 135,832,142, 131,647,895 and 128,365,704 subscribers were active respectively.

In 2019, NCC official figures informed that a total of 122,624,417 active subscribers were recorded in May; April had 119,506,430 subscribers; March had 115,938,225; February recorded 114,725,357 while 113,875,204 customers were active in January.

In 2020, the fixed wireless operators had 9,995 subscribers in May. It dropped to 9,847 in April but picked again in March and rose to 10,037 users. However in February 9,866 subscribers were active while 9,764 subscribers log on to the internet in January.

In 2019, the fixed wireless operators experienced a decline.  According to the figure from the NCC website, the operators attracted 10,155 subscribers in May. The month before that, 9,999 internet subscribers used this technology in April. In February and January 9,814 and 9,135 subscribers were active respectively.

Subscribers who used the voice over internet protocol [VoIP] technology in January 2019 were 358,173. In February and March the figures rose to 362,028 and 362,111 respectively. April and May documented 360,868 and 366,646 active customers.

However, in May 2020 the subscribers’ number peaked at 386,509. A slight decrease occurred in April (381,116) and March (361,052) while February and January accounted for 355,480 and 347,720 users.

Research-informed that the nationwide lockdown which was imposed as a result of the spread of the coronavirus pandemic globally was responsible for the high figure, as the lockdown must have further lured more Nigerians to the internet and thus increased the number of active subscribers.

According to media reports majority of active internet users were busy with different engagements. While some users were engaged with academic research by digging into various subjects including the coronavirus, news about the virus and politics, others were involved in e-commerce shopping and social issues such as movies, music downloads and sports betting among others.