Within just 32 days of operations in Ghana, Glo Mobile has already knocked out its first victim, the only CDMA player, Expresso. With the CDMA operator behind it, Glo is now heading for the real competition, which lies with the GSM operators.
Glo launched on April 29, 2012 and as at May 31, 2012, it recorded a total of 468,508 subscribers, according to the mobile subscriber base league table from the National Communication Authority.
The figure is even conservative, but it is already two per cent of the total number of mobile subscriptions in the country, which stood at 22,453,907; and almost 140% more than Expresso’s 195,670 subscribers.
Before Glo launched commercial service in Ghana, the bosses of the four GSM networks, MTN, Vodafone, Tigo and Airtel, could not hide their concerns about the threat Glo posed to revenue and subscriber base, even though they (the telecom bosses) also wondered how Glo could be profitable in the long-term, in a competitive market such as Ghana’s, with as many as five multinational players.
Some of them actually predicted that Glo’s coming into the market, would make consolidation an inevitable option for survival for some of the players. Indeed some dared to predict that within a couple of years, the number of telecom operators in Ghana would grind to four, because the market would be very unfriendly to at least two, which would either fold up completely, or merge with stronger brands.
Indeed, some industry regulatory officials have also said they foresee the industry having a maximum of four players with a matter of a couple of years. But no one is able to stick out their necks and say which brands are likely to get lost on the market by either merging with others or folding up completely. Let’s leave it at that.
But whichever network each of self-nominated industry prophets had in mind, they all agreed that the sixth operator is here to eat into all of their accounts, as far as revenue and subscriber base is concerned. On the subscriber base side, the players comfort themselves with the existence multi-simming in Ghana. Multi-simming is simply the ownership of more than one SIM by one person.
It is very common to find people, particularly in the urban communities in Ghana, who own at least two active SIMs; some even own three to four SIMs. But more often than not, one SIM is more active than the rest, and the user tend to spend more money using that one SIM which bears the number he or she is mostly identified with.
But with the benefit of Mobile Number Portability, people are now free to port their preferred phone numbers fully to any network of their choice, even though a relatively very small number of phone users have ported their numbers so far.
The foregoing, plus the fact that Glo launched with 85% nationwide coverage, on the back of its privately-owned Glo One submarine fibre backbone, and also starting with some of the juiciest offers the industry could offer, put some shivers down the spines of other players on the market.
The other thing that worked for Glo was the general call for a savior from the relatively poor quality of telecom service across board. Subscribers across networks have been complaining constantly about a litany of quality of service breaches, and the telcos have been explaining that those challenges are largely due to no fault of theirs. But the subscriber does not care whose fault it is, he or she wants a certain level of quality of service, and that is enough motivation to move to the next available network.
Glo saw the opportunity and threw very ambitious promises out there, long before its commercial launch. The company promised everything telecom and broadband ‘like never before’ (even though no one is still sure what that means). That may have largely contributed to the resounding success of its prelaunch number reservation campaign, in which a record 1.5 million Ghanaians reserved special Glo numbers long before the launch.
Now Glo is here, and it has started living the fear of the telco bosses; it has started eating real fast. Even though not all of the 1.5 million reserved numbers have been activated, Glo has already knocked out victim number one in just one month of commercial operations in Ghana.