Top 4 network providers in Nigeria

Since the liberalisation of the telecommunications sector, popularly known as the GSM revolution, in 2001, several telecom network providers have opened shops in Nigeria. The liberalisation transformed Nigeria’s information and communication technology environment and enabled Nigerians of all strata to remain in touch with their loved ones around the world.

This article, therefore, takes a look at the top four network providers in the country currently. The network providers examined in this piece are specifically mobile telecom providers. These operators offer residents in Nigeria data and telephone services.

Network providers in Nigeria

The network providers considered to be the best Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) operators in Nigeria are discussed below.

Airtel Nigeria

Airtel Nigeria

With operations in 20 nations throughout Asia and Africa, Bharti Airtel Limited is a top worldwide telecommunications provider. In terms of users, the firm, which has its headquarters in New Delhi, India, is among the top five mobile service providers internationally. One of the three businesses that won the GSM license auction in 2001 was Econet Nigeria, the forerunner of Airtel Nigeria; with the other two being MTN Nigeria and MTEL.

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The company has undergone several transformations and rebranding since 2001, going by the initial name of  Econet Wireless in 2001 and then changing to Vmobile (in 2004), Celtel (in 2006), Zain (in 2008) and Airtel Nigeria (in 2010). With approximately 55.3 million customers as of March 2022, according to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Airtel is the third-largest GSM provider in Nigeria.

Airtel phone number prefixes

Knowing the first four numbers that begin a phone number is the best and simplest way to determine the network provider. Every Airtel number begins with one of the following codes:


MTN Nigeria

MTN Nigeria

Since its August 2001 launch, MTN (Mobile Telephone Network) has been offering both mobile call and data services all over the nation. It is the leading network provider in Nigeria as it has the highest number of subscribers in the country.

The mobile operator is present in over 223 cities, towns, and more than 10,000 villages and settlements throughout Nigeria providing several services, including prepaid and postpaid telephony and data services. With over 75 million customers, MTN has the largest market share of any network provider in all of Africa.

MTN, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary operating in the country, has pledged to further improve its services to provide access to fast and dependable Internet and quality mobile calls.

MTN phone number prefix

Every MTN number begins with one of the following codes:


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The Nigerian telecommunications operator, Globacom Limited, also known as GLO, is based in Lagos. On August 29, 2003, GLO, a privately held telecommunications provider, began operations. It now conducts business in Nigeria, Ghana, the Republic of Benin, and Côte d’Ivoire, all of which are West African nations.

GLO is owned by Mike Adengua, one of the richest Nigerians. With more than 55.8 million subscribers nationwide, the operator is the second-leading telecom network operator in the nation. GLO is a 100 per cent Nigerian-owned firm and operates the Glo-1, an $800 million high-capacity fibre-optic cable that runs from the United Kingdom to Nigeria. It was the first of such to be built by a network operator in Nigeria.

GLO phone number prefix

Every GLO number begins with one of the following codes:




In 2008, the private limited liability business 9mobile was established in Nigeria. A private limited liability firm, Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services Ltd. (EMTS), operates its licence under the brand name “9mobile.” In 2007, the NCC granted EMTS a license for a unified access service to provide fixed telephony (wired or wireless), digital mobile services and other services.

The company initially began operations under the brand name Etisalat, the renowned Emirati-based multinational telecommunications services provider. However, following Etisalat’s exit from the nation in 2017 as a result of its inability to repay the $1.2 billion in loans it accrued from various Nigerian banks, the Emirati network provider exited Nigeria and the local operator of the licence renamed the brand 9mobile.

9mobile has a subscriber base of over 12.7 million subscribers nationwide and seems to be one of the preferred network providers of young Nigerians.

9Mobile Phone Number Prefix

Every 9mobile number begins with one of the following codes, which can be used to determine whether a number belongs to 9mobile or not. They are:

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