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NCC approves as MTN Nigeria acquires Visafone

By The Citizen
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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has given the final regulatory approval to the acquisition of Visafone Communications Limited, Nigeria's surviving Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) operator by MTN Nigeria.

The deal which was sanctioned in late December 2015 allows MTN Nigeria to utilise Visafone's 800MHz spectrum to launch fourth generation long term evolution (4GLTE) services.

MTN Nigeria's acquisition of Visafone has also led to mass lay off of Visafone staff as the CDMA operator moves to wind down majority of its operations in the country.

The buy-over will give MTN edge over other mobile operators as the first major operator to introduce 4G voice telephony (VoLTE). Visafone is owned by Mr. Jim Ovia, one of Nigeria's leading bankers, and technology investors. He also owns Cyberspace, an Internet Service Provider (ISP).

Visafone was formed in 2007 after acquiring the networks of Cell Communications, Independent Telecommunications Network (ITN) and Bordex Telecoms in Aba, Abia State.

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It has however faced increased competition form GSM operators who had huge cash to roll out new services, expand and compete aggressively.   The 800MHz frequency band covers 790-862MHz. Together with the 700MHz both are referred to as the Digital Dividend Spectrum by the ITU.

Under the plan, over two million existing Visafone subscribers will be migrated onto the MTN Nigeria network, a development that will now enable them use their voice and data services, anywhere where the latter has network coverage.

MTN launched 4GLTE in South Africa in 2013 and since them has been looking at how it could launch the technology in Nigeria. According to NCC's frequency allocation table on the regulator's website, MTN, Glo, Airtel and Etisalat operator on 900MHz and 1800MHz while Visafone, Megatech, Prestel, Lakes, Odu'a Telecom, Sunmail, ICL, Multilinks, LT Mobile, Rainbownet, Intercellular and MOC|ZTE are aloocated 800MHz spectrum bands.

With massive competition from other big operators and regulatory infractions which has affected MTN Nigeria's position in terms of market share and average revenue per user (ARPU), MTN decided to strengthen it's position with the 4G spectrum from Visafone.                                      The move will give MTN edge over other mobile operators as the first major operator to introduce 4G voice telephony (VoLTE). Visafone is owned by Mr. Jim Ovia, one of Nigeria's leading bankers, and technology investors. He also owns Cyberspace, an Internet Service Provider (ISP).

Visafone was formed in 2007 after acquiring the networks of Cell Communications, Independent Telecommunications Network (ITN) and Bordex Telecoms in Aba, Abia State. It has however faced increased competition form GSM operators who had huge cash to roll out new services, expand and compete aggressively.   The 800MHz frequency band covers 790-862MHz. Together with the 700MHz both are referred to as the Digital Dividend Spectrum by the ITU.