Mobile data resellers in Nigeria come under pressure

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MobiBlaze - Affordable mobile internet plans

This morning, I composed a tweet that read, “Now that almost all mobile networks offer data as low as 1GB for N1,000, what is the fate of data resellers? #Nigeria”, and scheduled it to go live later in the morning. But then, it occured to me that an rticle would be a much better format for my thoughts on the subject.

Back in 2014, the mobile internet landscape in Nigeria witnessed the emergence of “mobile data resellers”. Basically, these resellers purchased data in bulk from one or more mobile networks and resold at prices lower than the data plans being retailed by the networks. MobiBlaze from Mobility Arena was one of such pioneer data resellers.

A the time, subscribers were offered data at around 250MB for N1,000 straight from the mobile networks. Data resellers were able to offer subscribers data as pocket friendly as 1GB for N1,500. You could say it was revolutionary. And yes, it wasn’t going to last.

Eventually, the mobile networks would drop the cost of their retail data plans and the resellers would be out of business, unless and except the mobile networks dropped reseller rates.

As expected, some months later, the different networks began to introduce more pocket friendly data plans. Airtel had their “Android” data plan that offers 2GB for N2,000. MTN introduced the BetterMe plan offering 2,015MB for N2,015. Glo introduced their So Special plan at N2,500 for 4.5GB. Not to be left out, Etisalat has quietly introduced a plan that offers 2GB for N2,000.

In effect, every mobile network now provides a data plan that provides 1GB for N1,000. The edge of the data resellers has been lost for the most part and they are facing pressure. Profit margins have not only dropped significantly, but the resold data packs no longer have the attraction of much cheaper prices that they once had over retail tariffs from networks.

Now that almost all mobile networks offer data as low as 1GB for N1,000, what is the fate of data resellers? Will the mobile networks also adjust prices for the bulk plans that data resellers purchase from them? Or will data reselling end up as a stopgap measure that helped push down data tariffs and then went away?

Whatever the fate of data resellers, they were key catalysts in bringing much lower data tariffs to Nigerian mobile subscribers. This time a year ago, 1GB data for N1,000 was a pipe dream for many subscribers who were not BlackBerry users. N1,000 got them nothing more than 260MB.

22 comments

  1. Sorry o.

    Wrong comment..

    I know lots of technology businesses fizzle out as rapidly as they pop-up.

    But this particular data share one is beyond astonishing.

    There are people who don’t need up to 1Gig Data. Data share could have taken care of them. But that’s even under an onslaught by MTN.

    Being able to access dedicated data bundles for just things like Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter makes the situation even more dicey.

    With whatsapp call feature finally available to all, it would appear that all eyes are now on data, and data only…

  2. The volume of sales will reduce with time, some already took a hit when MTN fix the minimum allocated bandwidth to 1GB.

    I still buy from them when I’m stranded – mobile recharge issues with Glo which hasn’t been rectified in a long time, or when I switch location and I need a data fix.

  3. Not everyone uses up to 1GB per month, nor afford N2000 for data subscription. A small cost effective data plan from the resellers is the answer.

  4. still they have use.. 2k for 2gb ain’t same as 1k for 1gb. 1k is cheaper n easier to save for

  5. Aside the WhatsApp call been available to all
    Our mobile networks are yet to give us a 1000 1gb deal

  6. Our mobile networks should just create a special plan for students
    Something that gives 1gb for 800 – 1000
    Then they can displace mobile data reseller

  7. Think this is the way to go for them. 500MB, 300MB or even 100MB! (How would the subscribers without internet banking pay? I don’t know!)… I worked for about 5 years in the “downstream” sector of the telecoms industry and one of the things we discovered then was the fact that MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) or any thing that has that colouration will most likely not be allowed to work in Nigeria by the telcos.

  8. When students are the ones who probably burn the most data? I don’t see that changing in a hurry.

  9. If that ever happens, data users in Nigeria would have to be at least between 70-80% of the mobile phone market. Even then, how will the networks make a profit selling at that price?

  10. Students that burn data are those that have access to school WiFi or those that tweak *winks*

  11. Noni
    They will always make profit even if they sell less than that and we r getting close to that era

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