MTN integrates 2.1m Visafone customers into GSM platform

MTN• Firm’s market share falls to 39% in Nigeria      • Globacom maintains second position

To ensure effective operations, MTN Nigeria has started the full integration of the customers of Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) operator, Visafone, into its Global System of Mobile communication (GSM) platform.

Current statistics from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) show that as at February, the CDMA players, which are just two (Visafone and Multilinks) had 2, 147, 323 subscribers, with Visafone, which was founded by business mogul, Jim Ovia, controlling 2, 140, 299 subscribers.

MTN had in January, in a landmark industry deal, backed by the NCC acquired Visafone Communications.

The Guardian learnt that MTN decided not to run Visafone as a CDMA operator, which was the initial plan prior to its acquisition. Having weighed the implication in a GSM-dominated environment like Nigeria, the South African firm opted to integrate the Visafone into its GSM operation, and run it as voice over its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology network.

Indeed, the GSM technology currently controls 98.44 per cent of the telecommunications market; CDMA controls 1.44 per cent and the fixed wired/wireless controls 0.12 per cent.

According to The Guardian findings, integrated Visafone subscribers to MTN platform would be opportuned to keep their numbers, enjoy same tariff and able to connect freely to other networks without hitches.

Already, MTN has called on existing Visafone subscribers to call 222-customer care line to get details on how to migrate.

Meanwhile, apparently due to the current challenge it is having with the Nigerian authorities over its failure to comply with regulatory orders over the deactivation of SIM cards, which resulted in a N1.04 trillion fine later slashed to N780 billion, current statistics from the NCC showed that MTN Nigeria’s market share has fallen to 39 per cent.

About six months back, MTN Nigeria controlled 43 per cent market share and enjoyed the services of 62 million Nigerians. But February statistics showed its subscribers have fallen to 56.8 million. However, the telecommunications firm remains the largest in Nigeria.

Further analysis of the statistics showed that while Airtel and Globacom control the same market share at 23 per cent each, subscribers’ figures however separated them.

Globacom has 34 million subscribers; Airtel has 33.6 million subscribers and Etisalat, which enjoys 15 per cent market share, services 21.8 million subscribers in the country.

In an earlier interaction with journalists in Lagos, the Corporate Services and Human Resources Executive of MTN Nigeria, Amina Oyagbola, had said the acquisition, which seeks to leverage resources for service enhancement, was also reflective of MTN’s concerted efforts to deepen the growth and roll out broadband services across the country in support of the National Broadband Plan for the benefit of Nigerians.

Visafone, according to her, “is one of the leading CDMA/ICT companies in Nigeria offering a number of services including voice, high speed data (3G), Internet and other Value Added Services (VAS). Visafone also provides business solutions to small and medium-sized companies and corporate organisations in Nigeria.”

“We are committed to exploring avenues for meeting our customers’ increasing data needs in line with our vision to lead the delivery of a bold new digital world to our customers.

“As we work to maximise our data capabilities towards achieving broadband of international quality, our objective is to ensure that Nigerians experience a boost in the quality of broadband Internet services translating to the much-needed enhanced data speeds and value to enhance personal and business productivity,” Oyagbola added.

She stressed that the acquisition of Visafone highlights MTN’s commitment to Nigeria, adding that more capacity would facilitate enhanced product/service offerings and experience in the data space to the delight of their valued customers.

According to her, data is becoming increasingly important in people’s everyday lives and energies are focused on enhancing data and Internet services to the benefit of customers and the country at large.

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