Before the advent of GSM mobile services in Nigeria in 2001, CDMA services (fixed and mobile) had been in operation. Multilinks was the first private company to roll out CDMA fixed wireless services on our shores back in 1997.
Even with the introduction of GSM in 2001, CDMA was still the preferred choice for a large majority of Nigerians. This was especially because of the astronomical tariffs that GSM services offered then.
Today, the story is different. CDMA subscription is going down, along with its fortunes. Reports from NCC show that CDMA networks operating in Nigeria dropped by 1,069,485 lines from January to October in 2011. That is a 17 percent drop.
The CDMA networks comprising of Visafone, Starcomms, Multilinks, Zoommobile opened business in January 2011 with a total number of 6,186,442 subscribers in all.
There Was A Rising Demand Once…
In 2008, it was reported that a survey was conducted in Abuja. This survey showed that there was a growing demand for CDMA despite the domination of the market by GSM technology.
Affordability of CDMA phones and clarity of communication when compared with GSM where cited for this rising demand. According to telecommunications consultants, CDMA technology has the capacity to provide quicker transmission of data and internet than GSM.
…Then The Killer
GSM has been fished out as the killer of CDMA in Nigeria. According to Mobitel’s boss, the pervasive nature of GSM and its allied data technologies like SMS, GPRS, EDGE, HSPA, all contributed to the decline of CDMA in the country.
While CDMA has being losing subscribers, GSM networks comprising of MTN, Globacom, Airtel, and Etisalat, have gained a subscriber base of 93.9 million at at October 2011 as against 82.6 million in January 2011.
CDMA networks are also losing money as the drop in subscribers represents a loss of an estimated N10bn in revenues that would have accrued to the networks during the period under review. This figure was calculated using the Average Revenue Per User ARPU which is pegged at N1000 in Nigeria by industry experts.
Is this the beginning of the end of CDMA in Nigeria? Only time will tell.