TELECOMS

Sudatel-owned Intercellular returns to Nigerian telecoms market

Expresso Telecom, the international investment arm of Sudanese operator, Sudatel, that acquired Nigeria's Intercellular says it plans to re-launch the CDMA operator by the fourth quarter of 2009.

It comes just as rival player, Mobitel has also unveiled plans to return to the telecoms market with last week’s high profile acquisition of a WiMAX licence slot at N1.3billion as well as a $5million contract for the rollout of new generation networks to offer services in two states in the initial phase.

However, Sudatel is attributing the delay in the market return to challenges faced locally in its bid to rebuild the CDMA network from ground up.

Sudatel had in 2007 sealed a deal under which it bought 70 per cent stakes in Intercellular and very little turnaround has so far been seen in the company after the acquisition.

However, CEO of Expresso Telecom, the international investment arm of the Sudanese operator Sudatel, Emad Sukker, who dropped the hint of the market return of Intercellular in an interview with UAE’s Comm is confident of the future of the CDMA operator in the competitive telecoms market in Nigeria.

Under its relaunch plan, Intercellular has its eyes on an undisclosed market segment to deliver 1.5million users in the first year but has no intention of battling the big GSM networks that control over 90 per cent of Nigeria’s telecoms market officially estimated at over 67million active lines.

“We will not go and compete with the large operators ; rather we know what segment of the market we are after. We know what can and cannot be achieved, we know what is reasonable. I think the market can give enough to everyone,” said Sukker in the interview.

According to him, “Intercellular was the first telecoms operator in Nigeria, it was the pioneer. It is a very small company with around 50,000 subscribers and an old network. Therefore we are rebuilding the network from scratch.” Sudatel plans to inject $500 million over the next two years.

He added further that, “Nigeria is a large and difficult country, so it will take us some time before the new network is ready and I don’t expect we will launch before the fourth quarter.”

Expresso is 100 per cent owned by Sudatel, but is undergoing a process where new shareholders, yet to be named, are to acquire 25 per cent of the company.

Technology Times

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