MTN Nigeria is gearing for a 4G LTE network rollout in selected cities by July 2016, following the acquisition of LTE-suitable frequencies in the 800MHz band earlier this year via the takeover of CDMA network operator Visafone Communications.
MTN Nigeria’s CEO Ferdinand Moolman disclosed that MTN has started the process of migrating all of Visafone subscribers onto its network so that it could vacate the 800MHz frequency band and start rolling out LTE.
The executive was cited as saying: “It delayed our capital expenditure rollout during the first quarter a little bit because we needed to realign some of our CAPEX towards the LTE rollout. We started the migration of the subscribers and we hope to conclude that soon. The plans are to have commercial LTE available towards the end of the second quarter, maybe early Q3 2016, albeit very limited, and then start expanding this towards … the first quarter of next year.”
MTN is aiming to have roughly 1,500 LTE collocated sites backhauled with fibre-optics by year-end. Meanwhile, MTN Group’s Chief Operating Officer Jyoti Desai said that the company undertook a detailed analysis of MTN Nigeria’s data usage in order to determine the most suitable locations for 4G rollouts: “We looked at the handset ecosystem and revenue opportunity and have identified some of the major cities.”
In January 2016, MTN finalised the acquisition of Lagos-based Visafone, reportedly paying N47.5 billion ($238.7 million) to obtain its assets (including spectrum in the 800MHz band and roughly 2.1 million subscribers) in order to strengthen its position in the Nigerian wireless broadband market.