How Smile Communications roared in 2022 VOIP segment

The year 2022 was remarkable in Nigeria for many things, least of which the appreciable growth in the Voice-over Internet Protocol (VOIP) segment of the nation’s telecommunications sector.

For the better part of that eventful year, West Africa’s pioneer 4G LTE broadband service provider, Smile Communications Nigeria Limited, led the pack in this vital segment of the Nigerian market.

In the beginning, it made clear its aims to become the broadband provider of choice to everyone in Africa and enable customers to fully benefit from the internet world. ‘Our vision is a connected Africa.’ Currently, Smile services are helping businesses grow and individuals improve their lives using 4G LTE technology.

No doubt, Smile Communications provides 4G LTE mobile broadband in several countries in Africa. Its objective is to become the broadband provider of choice for SuperFast mobile broadband internet and SuperClear voice services in each of our markets.

It also aims to provide over 300 million potential customers in countries of operation with a fast, reliable and high-quality broadband internet to accelerate development and wealth creation.

To buttress the above, latest data from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) show that active subscriptions for VoIP service in Nigeria increased by 3.5 per cent to 354,449 between January and October 2022, with Smile championing the growth. Recall that VoIP or Internet telephony as of December 2021 was 342, 473.

The two operators playing big in Nigeria’s VoIP market are Smile and Ntel, but only Smile gained more subscriptions in the period under review with 19,294 new subscriptions, bringing its total to 333,968 in October, from 314,674 in December 2021.

Ntel, on the other hand, lost 7,315 customers in the period under review, bringing its total subscriptions to 20,481, from 27,799 in December 2021.

NCC’s data showed that Ntel, which joined the VoIP segment in January 2017, became the larger operator by subscriptions in just four months as its active subscriptions hit 61,817 in April 2017, while Smile was second with 42,308 subscriptions. Ntel has, however, lost most of its subscribers in the last five years.

VoIP service allows users to seamlessly communicate over the internet without the need for telephones. However, subscription to this service is still very low in Nigeria, as VoIP service remains one of the least subscribed in the Nigerian telecoms market.

According to NCC data, the GSM technology accounts for 99.84 per cent of the market share in terms of subscriptions as of October 2022, leaving VoIP service with 0.12 per cent and fixed wired service with 0.05 per cent share of the market.

Analysts attributed the low VoIP subscriptions in Nigeria to the proliferation of Over-the-Top services (OTTs) such as Whatsapp, and Facebook, among several others, which also allow voice and video calls over the internet.

This means that with a subscription for data, subscribers can make calls using the OTT platforms. The global VoIP market was valued at $77.4 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach $93.2 billion by the end of 2024, growing at a CAGR of 3.1 per cent between 2019 and 2024.

The adoption of Voice over IP is observed across various industries worldwide, especially in developing regions, to cater to their growing demand for everyday business activities. With its real-time communication services, it has helped organisations across various industries to lower communication costs.

Innovative as they come, Smile was also the first to launch Voice over Long Term Evolution (VoLTE) in 2016 to enable consumers benefit from superior quality voice, video and data services on a single device and a single data plan.

Smile is a pan-African telecommunications group with operations in Nigeria (Smile Communications Nigeria), Tanzania (Smile Communications Tanzania), Uganda (Smile Communications Uganda), and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Smile Communications DRC).

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