NATCOM Consortium, the new owners of Ntel and the newest entrant into the telecommunications industry in Nigeria, has revealed plans to begin the first stage roll-out of its commercial services to the public as announced by its Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Kamar Abass.
Mr. Abass who disclosed the information in Lagos yesterday, said Ntel would start the first phase of its operation with the commercial sales of its 0804 mobile line on Friday, 8th April, in Lagos and Abuja.
He added that even though the company acquired some base transceiver stations (BTS) from the old NITEL, it also signed a partnership agreement with IHS and Helios Towers, builders of BTS as well as other telecommunications infrastructure, to mount 600 base stations for the commercial roll-out in Lagos and Abuja, with plans to further extend the roll-out plan to Port Harcourt with additional 200 BTS, also known as base stations.
All licence authorisations needed for Ntel to set its Voice over LTE (VoLTE) network in motion, using next generation telecommunications infrastructure to begin the first phase roll-out of its commercial service to the public in April has been approved by the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC and the company has also installed 200 kilometres of metro fibre optic transmission cables in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt, for a hitch-free network connectivity during the roll-out, said Ntel CEO. He further revealed that the company had already deployed LTE Advanced, the most recent 4G technology with multi-antennae sites. According to him:
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“We are rolling out physical sites in three cities on our 900MHz and 1800MHz bands to launch Voice over LTE come April 8, 2016. We have signed agreements with trade partners and fulfilled all licence authorisations and payments and we are up-to-date and there are no impediments to our launch.”
Ntel has finished the construction of Tier III Data centre and the reactivation of SAT-3 submarine international fibre optic cable in order to make certain that its mobile network roll-out plan kicks off as planned. Mr. Abass also said that the parent company of Ntel, NATCOM Investments Limited, has made an estimate of over $1 billion investments over the next four years, for its roll-out scheme would be carried out in phases.
Successive administrations made attempts to bring NITEL back to life but when it failed, they resolved to sell it to private entrepreneurs. The decision was met with about four failed attempts until in 2014 when a conglomerate called NATCOM made a bid, won and paid $252,251,000 (N45,922,264,700.53) to acquire the assets of the defunct first national operator NITEL, to begin commercial operation on its mobile network.
Acknowledging the growth of Nigeria’s telecoms industry, which has witnessed the rise of voice subscriptions from less than 60,000 in 2001 to over 147 million as at 2015, Abass still expressed fears that broadband usage has only grown by 20 per cent. He announced that NATCOM has come to fill the vacuum, providing Nigerians unrestricted access to full mobile broadband both on voice and data services.
“Over the next four and half years, the total number of mobile broadband customers alone will be greater than all of the customers that have come into the market on mobile since its inception. In other words, we are at a point where a major transformation is in the making. You will see 168 million mobile broadband customers coming into existence between now and the end of 2019, which is more than all the mobile customers in both narrow and broadband that we have seen in the last 15 years.
“That sounds like an enormous transformation. When it comes to the supply of broadband services, we are unique because we have more spectrum which can deliver more output than any network available today and potentially any network in the future. The spectrum we have has unique features which can not be compared with any other spectrum band.”