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Telcos growth contracts as operator acquires additional 800MHZ spectrum

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Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) growth last quarter of 2020 contracted, as statistics from the telecoms regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) showed that from 4.50 per cent combined growth in the third quarter, it fell to a negative 0.31 per cent.

According to the data, MTN, the largest operator in the country had 4.93 per cent growth in Q3, but fell to a negative 2.26 per cent. The date revealed that as at June 2020, the South African owned telecommunications firm had 78.6 million users. This however, increased to 82.6 million by September, and fell to 80.7 million as at the end of the year.

For Globacom, the statistics showed that as at Q3, it witnessed 3.20 per cent growth but fell to1.08 per cent by December 2020. Further analysis showed that as at June, Globacom had 52.6 million users, it moved to 54.3 million in September, and rose again to 54.8 million at the end of the year.

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Airtel’s growth also contracted as it dropped from 5.32 per cent in Q3 to 0.71 per cent by Q4. NCC claimed that Airtel had 52.5 million users as at June 2020, the figure rose to 55.3 million by September and 55.6 million by last December. On the other hand, 9mobile, which had 5.10 per cent in Q3 dropped to 1.99 per cent by year end. The statistics showed that the telecommunications firm, which had 13.7 million in June, lost some subscribers and fell to 12.7 million by September. The figure went up in the last quarter to 12.9 million.

Industry watchers claimed that one of the factors that led to contracted growth in the last quarter of 2020 was the Federal Government NIN-SIM enrolment, verification and linking, which also ensure the inability of operators to register new SIMs and also unable to do SIM swap for customers, who needed it.

The Guardian had reported that in the last three months into the FG’s directive, some 7.6 million lines have been inactive, and over N10 billion have been lost to the directive.

In a related development MTN Nigeria Plc has acquired an additional 10MHz spectrum in the 800MHz band from Intercellular Nigeria Limited, one of Nigeria’s foremost private telecommunications operators (PTOs).

MTN, in a statement said the NCC has approved the transaction and assigned the frequency to MTN Nigeria.

The telecommunications firm said the acquisition will significantly improve customer experience, in line with its commitment to deliver excellent service quality to its subscribers. Statistics from the NCC showed that MTN as at January had 79 million customers and 39.54 per cent penetration in the country.

Speaking on the acquisition, Chief Executive Officer, MTN Nigeria, Karl Toriola, said: “Through this acquisition, we will be better positioned to support the deepening of broadband penetration in the country. The added resources will also greatly impact our customers’ experience providing even better internet connectivity. It is our goal to keep finding ways to grant everyone access to a modern connected life.”

Findings showed that the 10MHz spectrum bank will be used to enhance MTN Nigeria’s data network as it expands its fourth generation 4G service across the country.

Recall that in Novembers 2019, Airtel Africa acquired 900MHz band for $70 million from Intercellular Nigeria. The deal was to allow Airtel Nigeria to expand and strengthen its LTE network across the country. The transaction was subject to regulatory approval by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

In March 2016, Intercellular Nigeria signed an agreement with Huawei, Chinese telecoms equipment vendor at the 2016 Mobile World Congress (MWC) to transform its CDMA network to the 4G LTE. The operator later rolled out the 4G LTE network on 800MHz spectrum band to meet the strategic and service demands of the Nigerian market.

In August 2016, Intercellular rebranded and re-launched its operations under the name InterC Network. That year, Huawei was to transform its CDMA network to a 4G LTE platform. Under the deal, Huawei was to deploy an 800MHz LTE broadband network in phases, with plans to eventually cover all of the country’s towns and cities.

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