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Stakeholders accuse telcos of underutilising $600bn 3G spectrum

By on July 28, 2015

Stakeholders in the telecommunications sector have accused telecoms companies of underutilising the $600bn 3G spectrum.

The stakeholders, who also include subscribers, stated that the underutilisation of the 3G spectrum by the telcos was the reason for the persistent poor quality of service being witnessed in most parts of the country.

The President, National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers, Mr. Adeolu Ogunbanjo, said that he did not see the telecoms companies utilising the 4G and Long-Term Evolution spectrum, if they had failed to maximise the 2G and 3G spectrums.

“Now that they (the telcos) are all clamouring for 4G and the LTE, how do they intend to fully utilise it when they have not made good use of the 3G spectrum, especially at this time when some of them are moving from investing fully in voice service to data service,” he said.

But MTN Nigeria’s Head, Corporate Communications, Ms. Funmi Onajide, dismissed the argument, saying that at the end of June 2015, it had spent “in excess of $1bn (N2tn) per annum over the last 10 years in the area of network infrastructure.”

She said that the bulk of the sum had gone into development and expansion of the 3G network in cities across Nigeria since it was rolled out in 2007.

“It is because of our investments that both 2G and 3G services are commonly available in most parts of the country,” Onajide said, adding that, “By the current industry statistics, MTN has the highest 3G services coverage spread across the country. This is more than that of any other Information and Communications Technology company in the country.”

Onajide, however, said that MTN does not have the widest coverage in Nigeria, “as MTN’s spectrum is utilised at optimal efficiency, given environmental factors.”

Meanwhile, Airtel said it had selected Nokia Networks to roll out its 3G network in five new telecoms circles and network expansion in three existing telecoms circles in Nigeria.

It said in a statement made available to our correspondent that under the four-year contract, “Nokia Networks will provide its radio elements and services expertise to power Airtel’s infrastructure.”

The Vice President and Head of India Market, Nokia Networks, Sandeep Girotra, signed the statement, saying, “With this project, we have further strengthened Airtel’s 3G proposition in eight business-critical circles in India including five new circles, adding yet another dimension to our collaboration which continues to gain momentum with such strategic engagements.”

Girotra, however, did not disclose the financial details.

The Chief Executive Officer of Airtel Nigeria, Mr. Segun Ogunsanya, said that as a Global System for Mobile network, Airtel, in all countries in which it operates, was fully providing 2G, 3G, (3.75G in Nigeria) and 4G services depending upon the country of operation.