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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Anibaba commends MTN, unveils backbone

Remmy Nweke

Communications Minister, Dr. Obafemi Anibaba, has commended MTN Group for investing in Nigeria, just as he unveiled the fibre optic backbone network at the nation’s capital, Abuja.

This came as MTN is contemplating seamless roaming within the West African sub-region.

Anibaba also lauded MTN for the kind of massive investment in the country since inception five years ago, saying that it gladdens his heart that the investment interest from MTN Group has continued to grow.

“I am happy today because MTN has done a great thing in Nigeria and by the time I pressed the button, I saw a network of fibre optic, which reminds me of the network of roads,” he declared.

He also said that the present government is offering investors what he described as ‘total support’ and tasked MTN to ensure satisfaction of all its subscribers as well as consider other operators, if need be.

The minister further challenged MTN to sustain its claim of being the largest network on the continent.

Giving details of the project, the General Manager, Access Network, MTN Nigeria, Mr. Lance Dickerson, said that the backbone commenced 18 months ago as part of its network expansion.

Describing it as the most ambitious project of the telco since it launched the 4,500 kilometre Y’ello Bahn based on microwave backbone in January 2003.

The backbone which cost was placed in excess of $300 million, he said, was divided into three main phases.

Till date, he said, the first and second phases have been completed while the third phase is due for completion by December 2006.

Mr. Dickerson listed the core advantages of the fibre over existing transmission technology to include availability of unlimited transmission capacity, dramatic reduction in transmission round trip delays and improvement in transmission availability as well as appreciable reduction in transmission errors.

He stressed it would facilitate the delivery of building and expanding the Telco’s sites, improved call and speech quality with more traffic, even as there would be better Short Messaging Service (SMS) response and reduction in congestion and drop calls among others.

Speaking to newsmen after the launch, the Group CEO, Mr. Phuthuma Nhleko, disclosed that the telco is advancing plans to introduce sub regional roaming package that would enable subscribers on the network from the region to roam freely without additional cost to the subscribers.He also said that competition in the telecommunications sector on the continent is really helping to drive the cost of services.
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