Cautious Optimism over NATCOM Ability to Revive Nitel
STAKEHOLDERS in the country’s telecommunications space were not completely optimistic about the ability of NATCOM the new owners of Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) and its subsidiary Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTEL) to resuscitate the beleaguered national carrier.
This is coming against the backdrop of federal government’s approval to handover NITEL/MTEL facilities to NATCOM consortium having completed the payment of $252.251million cost of acquisition.
Gbenga Adebayo, chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) said though he is not in the know to details of the transaction and NATCOM Consortium’s financial strength, that being able to raise the sum they bided means that they are serious to compete in the telecom market.
He noted that NITEL/MTEL under the new owners will now be late starters and need to make impact through innovative and value added services to attract subscribers to its network. He seeks support of Nigerians to help them survive the stiff competitive telecom market.
He added that NATCOM has to carry out a complete re-engineering of NITEL’s infrastructure as some of the loop may have been blocked or destroyed by as a result of road constructions.
Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, immediate past president, Association Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) and group managing director, Teledom Group, said that NATCOM Consortium has a chance of surviving in already crowded telecom market in the country, he urged them to focus on providing landline which is presently none existence in the country.
We should remember that NITEL has telephone exchanges in almost all the local government across the country, although, some of the cable and switches may be obsolete they real estate, towers, racks and power cable are still useful ,” he said .
He urged NATCOM Consortium to look towards providing Nigerians fibre to home service that can give people access to broadband and cable television.
Deolu Ogunbanjo, President, National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers of Nigeria (NATCOMMS) said that NATCOM Consortium need to concentrate more on its unique selling preposition which according to him is landline service that also goes with broadband service.
“They are coming at a time when the policy guideline required for broadband penetration has been established by the minister of Communications Technology. It is only for them to key in to the policy through investment in that area. They should look at Etisalat model that surprised everybody,” he said.
It would be recalled that at the federal executive council approved the handover to NATCOM consortium, having paid the cost of acquisition.
By this approval, the process has come to a closure and the council has mandated the BPE to hand over the two companies to the preferred winner after all other outstanding issues are taken care of.
With this, the transaction has come to an end and Council asks BPE to hand over the two companies to the bid winner, NATCOM consortium.