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Thursday, February 18, 2016

MTN fights dominance in South Africa, flaunts it in Nigeria

Opinion@ITRealms:


 

When MTN tries to play innocent and claims that its purchase of Visafone does not give it an unfair advantage over its competitors, I laugh and wonder if this is not the same MTN that fought tooth and nail against Vodacom’s acquisition of Neotelclaiming that the deal would give Vodacom dominance in South Africa’s high-speed Internet market.

 

Last year, Vodacom dropped its bid for Neotel’s spectrum amid pressure and strong opposition from South Africa mobile operators Cell C and MTN. Why the South African company does not see it fit to apply the same reasoning here in Nigeria in its decision to buy Visafone along with its 800 MHz spectrum, is rather puzzling.

So what MTN fought so hard to prevent in its home country it wants to perpetuate in my own country?

 

Just like the case of Vodacom and Neotel in South Africa, MTN Nigeria’s acquisition of Visafone will give it access to Visafone’s 800 MHz spectrum and allow it to launch 4G services to the exclusion of the other three major operators who do not have such lower frequency spectrum and are unlikely to access such spectrum due to its scarcity.

It is time for NCC to do just as their South African counterparts did to protect the competitiveness of their telecoms industry; NCC must intervene by prohibiting MTN’s use of Visafone’s 800MHz spectrum until when MTN’s competitors are able to access similar low frequency spectrum.

 

Obviously spectrum is a very scarce resource therefore the right thing to do is to give every operator a fair chance to access the available 800MHz spectrum by retrieving it from inactive operators and reassigning spectrum to operators who demonstrate the financial and technical capability to put the it to effective use.

 

They should save this country from MTN’s Dominance. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander – If MTN wouldn’t allow dominance in South Africa, they shouldn’t do it in Nigeria.

 

*contributed by James Akwayan, a legal practitioner and human rights activist

 

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