Fresh figures published by the National Communication Authority (NCA) for the year ending December 2011, indicate that between November and December Tigo lost a further 108,995 subscribers whiles Vodafone added on some 96,697 more.
The report indicate Tigo posted some 3,921,754 subscribers in December, indicating a dip from 4,030,769 a month ago, while Vodafone posted 4,275,521, a rise from 4,179,824 in November.
But a highly placed source at Tigo told Adom News in spite of what the NCA report said, Tigo believes it is still the second largest operator in Ghana.
The subscriber numbers the NCA publishes are nothing more than figures presented to the NCA by the individual telecom operators based on their own separate and completely different methods of determining their own subscriber base.
There is no common method for determining subscriber levels, and there is no auditing to verify the authenticity of figures presented by individual operators to the NCA.
Telecom Risk Management experts maintain that the disparity in the methods of generating subscriber numbers could paint a picture different from the reality because some operators may include figures, which others may not see fit to add on.
All telecom operators claim to report active subscribers only, but experts have told Adom News for every telecom operator, there are huge numbers of registered dormant subscribers sitting on their networks; for some operators the dormant subscribers run into millions, depending on how large one’s subscriber base is.
The risk managers revealed whiles some telecom operators are noted for including the dormant subscriptions in their quarterly figures, others capture only active subscribers.
“So in real terms an operator that captures the dormant figures may post higher figures but could have less active customers, and therefore less revenue than another operator which captures only active subscriptions,” said the risk manager.
It is not very clear whether that is what is happening in the Tigo/Vodafone case, but Tigo insists it is still the second largest operator in Ghana by subscribers.
Tigo has always said it determines subscriber figures through activity across networks, i.e. calls between networks, adding that within the 90 day period, any number that makes at least one call is captured as active, but it does not capture dormant subscribers on its own network, who are more than a million.
Experts say that method helps the network employing it to also know how many of the competitors’ subscribers are active because within 90 days each active subscriber on another network would have made at least one call to every network.
In November when the report first showed that Vodafone was now ahead of Tigo, Adom News contacted Vodafone for comment but they stated precisely “we are not commenting on this issue.”
Meanwhile Adom News has forwarded requests to all the telecom operators, including Vodafone, to find out how they determine their subscriber numbers, and what are the components of the figures they present to NCA every quarter?
Airtel, which also showed strength in its forward movement, increasing subscribers from 2,581,942 in November to 2,625,705 in December, has also answered the method question somewhat.
Airtel Ghana Boss, Philip Sowah told Adom News Airtel’s network is managed by Ericsson, which works with the technical team at Airtel to monitor and record active subscribers daily.
“We pay Ericsson per how many customers they are serving on our behalf so we have no interest in over bloating our figures because that would mean we have to pay more money to Ericsson so what we quote are actually active subscribers,” he said.
But Philip Sowah did not say exactly how Ericsson and the Airtel technical team determine all of those subscribers are active.
Meanwhile Expresso continued its losing spree, falling from 191,779 in November to 186,751 in December 2011, representing some 0.88% of the total of 21,165,843.
Market leader MTN consolidated its lead by increasing subscribers by more than 100,000 from 10,053,479 to 10,156,112 in just one month.
As things stand right now, going by the NCA’s figures, MTN commands 48% market share, Vodafone commands 20.2%, Tigo follows with 18.53%, Airtel comes in at 12.4% and Expresso trails with a relatively insignificant 0.88%.
Meanwhile for he fixed line market, Vodafone enjoys a near monopoly at 274,607, which represents a dip from 275,917 last month.
Vodafone’s fixed line subscription has had a checked history, rising and falling through the year, until it hit a peak of 285,364 in August and has been falling since.
Airtel recorded 10,114 fixed lines in December, a marginal increase from 10,061 from a month before.
The total number of fixed lines therefore stood at 284,721, which represents a fall from 285,978 a month before, indicating a gradual demise of the fixed line service in Ghana.
That brings the total number of mobile and fixed line subscriptions in Ghana to 21,450,564, which represents 89.4% of Ghana’s estimated 24 million people, comprising of 88.2% mobile penetration and 1.2 fixed line penetration.
Meanwhile Glo Mobile Ghana has also launched a number reservation campaign through which it is gearing up to gain initial market share as it enters the market this year.
Samuel Nii Narku Dowuona/Adomonline/Ghana