INVESTMENT

Nigeria: Major Investments expected as the Country Prepares for 3G Services

Third Generation (3G) mobile services could become operational in Nigeria in the next few weeks after the four GSM operators reported that tests for the release of the services had been successful. .

HANA's correspondent in Lagos has learned that MTN Nigeria, Celtel Nigeria, Glo Mobile and Alheri Engineering have already connected a few of their staff to the service as part of the final phases of tests towards the rollout of the service that is expected to offer data services including Internet services. Glo, MTN and Celtel had confirmed earlier in the year that they had carried out initial tests on 3G services in some states in the country and weer ready ready to receive their services. But capacity constraint and poor quality of services in the current 2G services, has delayed the rollout of the services while precautions to overcome poor quality are bing taken.

The chief executive officer of MTN Nigeria, Mr. Farroukh Ahmad, earlier confirmed MTN's readiness to rollout its services in the fourth quarter of 2007. Meanwhile, the chief marketing officer of Celtel Nigeria Mr. Michael Foley said, Celtel was on the verge of service rollout. He added that a few of the company's staff were already on the 3G platform as part of the testing of the service, adding that the firm had achieved good quality on voice service in the 3G platform so far. Alheri Engineering, a subsidiary of the Dangote also confirmed that its near-readiness for service rollout. The spokeman for the Dangote Group, Mr. Okonmah Joseph, said the firm was also perfecting its plans for the introduction of 3G services. He said, "Preparations are in top gear to rollout. Though I cannot ascribe a date to it, but by the time will rollout we will have substantial coverage in the country." Sources at Glo Mobile also confirmed the readiness of the firm for 3G services rollout, saying that all that was being awaited for was a final nod from its Chairman, Otunba Mike Adenuga. Foley also said that part of the delay for the rollout of services was the need to ensure that besides voice, other offerings in the 3G service, especially data and video were of the highest quality.

Foley said only when this had been achieved would the company rollout the services. Based on this, Foley said that the rollout date would not be uniform among operators but that subscribers could expect operators to rollout within a few weeks after one another. He noted however, that he did not expect 3G services to substantially change the way people use their mobile phone services as was just another service, adding that voice would continue to dominate apllications that are mostly used by subscribers. Each of the four firms is said to have paid $150 million for the 3G licenses, after they opposed the price as exhorbitant.

(Highway Africa News Agency (Grahamstown), 12 October 2007)

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