Chima Akwaja, Leadership
March 12, 2013
MTN Nigeria is investing $1.583 billion ($1.5 billion) to expand and build an Internet Protocol (IP-based) network as it plans on adding seven million new subscribers thereby taking its mobile subscription haul to 54.4 million by the end of 2013. The money will be invested on expanding its microwave and fibre optic backbone projects and new sites.
The largest operator in Nigeria plans to build 5,000 second generation (2G) and 3,000 third generation (3G) base stations transceivers (BTS) across the nation in order to ensure optimum quality of service (QoS). The combination of the 2G and 3G BTSs will be co-located on 5,528 sites. The amount, figures and projections were contained in the December 31, 2012 ended full year financial report of the MTN Group.
MTN Nigeria whose total subscriber base increased by 13.9 per cent to 47.4 million has a market share of 47.5 per cent. It was able to roll out new 1, 414 2G sites and 1,175 3G co-located sites following the successful implementation of a large network swap and modernisation programme in 2012. It has already modernised and upgraded 4,615 sites.
According to the full financial results on its website, MTN Group said "Quality improvements were evident in the fourth quarter" in Nigeria following a difficult first half of the year. The Nigerian operation now has 10,450 km of backbone fibre in operation and it "Expects to meet NCC quality requirements by mid 2013."
Mr Wale Goodluck, corporate services executive, MTN Nigeria speaking to LEADERSHIP said the money will be spent on the microwave and fibre optic backbones and the new 2G and 3G sites. "Despite the investments we are putting, we see that subscribers' demand for voice is very high. In December 2012 calls peaked, but in January 2013, it was even higher. We don't know the reason behind it but we see that people are spending money on the network. This makes subscriber behavior easy to predict."
During 2012, MTN and three other mobile operators fell foul of Nigerian telecom regulator's quality of service thresholds and were subsequently fined N1.8 billion. These fines were subsequently paid and more realistic key performance indicators were negotiated with the regulator.