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.