Let's start with the obvious, what NCC publishes (as of March 2013)-
MTN has 51 million subscribers
Globacom has 24 million subscribers
Airtel has 24 million subscribers
Etisalat has 15 million subscribers
About half of the GSM subscribers in Nigeria use MTN! And if you look through the trend for the past 8 months, contrary to what most of us believe, MTN has being growing impressively (and way better than Globacom).
In fact, going by the Dec 2012 and Mar 2013 data, MTN has been snatching customers from all the other three!
Now, let's move to the not-so obvious. I'll be telling you what I know to be true, courtesy the insider knowledge I have, having worked in the core telecoms and in three different telecoms companies.
MTN has the best. Forget about the talk of your BBM dp not changing, MTN Snail-link and drop calls. Those are mostly caused by peak congestion - when everyone gets trapped in the 3rd mainland brigde traffic and is trying call and bbm chat, or you're at event, or there is a party two houses away or you live in Agege, Mushin or Ketu. The truth is, when you stack the 4 providers up against one another, MTN has the biggest installed capacity and the strictest infrastructure quality requirement. MTN's BTS sites are the most consistently built and have the strictest commissioning guidelines. You might have noticed that even their customer support centres are the best built.
And to satisfy your curiosity, it's -
This is really a guess, but an intelligent one.
MTN is practically minting cash in Nigeria,
Airtel is not slacking, focused on the corporate Nigerians. Airtel probably has the biggest ARPU (Average Revenue Per User). Airtel is 2nd.
Globacom is 3rd.
Etisalat is last.
You tell me.