NATCOM Development and Investment, the consortium that acquired the assets of moribund fixed line operator Nigerian Telecommunications (NITEL) and its mobile subsidiary M-Tel last year, plans to launch commercial 4G LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) services under the ntel brand name on 8 April. Local newspaper This Day cites the company’s CEO Kamar Abass as saying that voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) services will initially be available in Lagos and Abuja as part of the first rollout phase, with other locations, including Port Harcourt, set to follow in the near future. He revealed that around 600 base stations are being deployed in the two initial launch cities, with a further 200 set for installation in Part Harcourt, and added that ntel has rolled out 200km of metropolitan fibre-optic transmission cables in the three urban areas. ‘We are rolling out physical sites in three cities on our 900MHz and 1800MHz bands to launch VoLTE come 8 April 2016. We have signed agreements with trade partners and fulfilled all licence authorisations and payments and we are up-to-date and there are no impediments to our launch,’ Abass said.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, NATCOM officially took over the core assets of NITEL/M-Tel in April 2015, after it emerged as the highest bidder in the government’s ‘guided liquidation’ process with an offer of USD252.25 million. The deal included 40MHz of 900MHz and 1800MHz spectrum that was previously used for the provision of 2G GSM services. ntel made its first on-net test data call in Lagos in January this year, followed by its first VoLTE call a month later in partnership with Sweden’s Ericsson and Sony Electronics of Japan.