MTN, Nigeria’s biggest telecommunications network, and Etisalat, the country’s fastest growing mobile operator, are planning to separate their voice and data businesses on the back of the proposed acquisition of 2.6GHz spectrum resource next year, industry insiders say.
This move, the insiders explained, would help improve network performance and efficiency as mobile operators look to meet rising customer expectations for better service delivery and generate more revenue.
The Director for Engineering at Etisalat Nigeria, Temi Ogunbambi, confirmed this new direction in an interview, adding that the move explains why Nigeria’s telecoms industry is anticipating the auction of the 2.6GHz frequency spectrum band next year.
“Operators intend to utilise the existing 900/1800 MHz spectrum (2G and 3G) for voice services, while the 2.6GHz band, once allocated to deserving mobile operators, would be deployed specifically for broadband and data oriented services,” Ogunbambi said.
Market observers are of the view that there was a general lack of interest amongst GSM operators in the recently concluded 2.3GHz spectrum auction, overseen by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
South Africa’s MTN, India’s Airtel, and UAEs’ Etisalat showed little interest in the two-day spectrum auction.
“MTN welcomes the possibilities that additional spectrum that will enable the industry deliver broadband ideals to Nigerians is being made available by the NCC”, said General Manager, Corporate Affairs at MTN Nigeria, Funmi Omogbenigun.
Speaking with BusinessDay, Omogbenigun said MTN is currently reviewing the Information Memorandum (IM) for the 2.6GHz auction published by the NCC, with a view to providing valuable insight that would enrich the auction process. For quite some time, mobile operators have been weighed down by the nation’s harsh operating environment, as well as pressure from the regulator to enhance Quality of Service (QoS) levels.
“One of the biggest problems hindering better QoS is that operators deliver both voice and data services on the same network”, said Lanre Ajayi, President of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON).
“Once the frequency spectrum is allocated to deserving operators, they can now decongest their networks by moving data service to the new spectrum, which would help improve efficiency and performance,” said Ajayi, in an interview.
The NCC is working out modalities for the auction of the 2.6GHz frequency spectrum band, in an attempt to meet the Federal Government’s target of a five-fold increase in broadband internet penetration by 2018.happy wheels