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Operator commits N180 billion to network expansion in 2018

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MTN Nigeria CEO, Ferdie Moolman

Telecommunications firm, MTN said it has committed N180 billion to network expansion in Nigeria for 2018.

This is even as it claimed that for a similar projects in 2016 and 2017, it spent N192 billion and N225 billion respectively.

Speaking at a post–event interview in Lagos, MTN Nigeria’s Chief Financial Officer, Kunle Awobodu, said the telecommunications firm will spend N180 billion this year on expansion and network roll outs.

Awobodu explained that this became necessary because of the need to expand into the hinterland and bridge the access gap the country currently facing.

The MTN CFO explained that majority of the funds would go into data service expansion, “though voice contributes 2/3 of our revenue, but the issue is that, lately, people are not making calls like before. They now rely more on the likes of WhatsApp.

As we transition from callcentric to datacentric, you need to improve your infrastructure.

Though, the firm’s financial report showed that we had 17 per cent increase in revenue, the fact is that the increase came from call and few from data.

So, as a company that is futuristic, we have to prepare for the future.

If big part of our revenue will come from data, we have to prepare for it by investing in data infrastructure.”

On planned 5G transition, Awobodu said: “What people do not understand about the 3G, 4G is about having a smartphone.

We can’t start talking about 5G when our 3G, 4G phone penetration is still very low in Nigeria. We can say may be in Lagos, we have a better penetration but not the same in rest of Nigeria.

“We are still at the early stage of 4G, so it may be too early for for us to start talking about 5G.

MTN has tested 5G in South Africa, we are going to conduct a test here sometime but for us to push up this, we have to make sure that the smartphones are in the market and that they are in the right preference.

The smartphones we have do not even support 4G, not to talk of 5G. But we shall get to that level,” he stated.

As at last year, adoption of smartphone hovered around 30 per cent and 35 per cent in Nigeria.

On slow 4G connections in the country, Awobodu said the issue bothered on availability of spectrum frequency, “the more frequency you have the better services you can give.

It also helps us in terms of the coverage you can give the people. If you have a good frequency, data and coverage will be better.

We already have LTE service, what we are doing is expanding it in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt.

I think we are now in nine cities but we have cities that are still not on 4G that we want to expand into while we are doing this capital expenditure expansion.

For us, we have to first invest in the equipment itself to generate cash that is how it is structured.”


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