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Thursday, May 03, 2007

MTN maps out N832bn for expansion

Third Generation (3G) complaint telecommunications operator in the country, MTN Nigeria has mapped out over $650million (about N832,000,000) for the expansion of the network and increasing its base stations figures 839 before the end of this year, even as 252 cities are expected to be added on the network.

MTN Nigeria also said it has deployed 14 Ericsson’s SoftSwitch Technology Next Generation switches, to improve the quality of its network.

Noteworthy is that MTN Nigeria has affirmed its readiness to roll out in the 3G platform following the telco’s payment of the $150 million for the license Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

Disclosing this, Chief Executive Officer, MTN Nigeria, Mr. Ahmad Farroukh, said that the $650m expansion project would involve the unveiling of 14 new switches located in 12 switching centres, thereby availing an increased traffic to carry capacity on the network.

In addition, he said, that currently the 2661 base stations spread across the country are expected to increase to over 3,500 before the end of this year.

This expansion, he said, is aimed at providing world-class quality service to its teeming subscribers across the country, stressing that the network expansion began early this year to provide infrastructure.

He added that the obtaining of the 3G license gave the telco the required technology for novel products and services in the area of multi-media streaming and communications.

Further, Mr. Farroukh said that an estimated 252 cities nationwide, would be added on the MTN Nigeria network due to the current expansion project.

“Another 252 cities will be added to the MTN Nigeria’s growing network during this period to bring total number of Nigerian cities effectively covered by telecommunications giant to 2490,” he said.

He noted that the rollout programme is being supported with an aggressive rural site to rollout policy that is aimed at bringing hundreds of villages and hamlets onto the network, explaining that with additional expenditure specifically targeted at network expansion this year, “it is expected that significant progress will be made in enhancing coverage, and ensuring consistently seamless service to its teaming customers.”

According to Mr. Farroukh, MTN’s network presently covers 578 Local Government Areas in the country, which amount to 534,012.68 Square Kilometres (SqKm) or 58.33 per cent of Nigeria landmass.

Similarly, approximately 95 million people or about 81 per cent of Nigeria’s population are within areas covered by MTN Nigeria.

The company has expended over $ 3 billion in the last five-year period in development of the network and its cutting edge features.

He said that MTN Nigeria has also launched Internet Protocol (IP/MPLS) network into major cities to provide high value data services to business customers and improve business technology.

“This latest technology is capable of carrying video, data, and voice at the same time,” he said.

Equally speaking on the expansion, Chief Technical Officer (CTO), MTN Nigeria, Mr. Karl Toriola revealed that the company is undertaking major metro rings expansions within major cities across the country, which should provide a reliable and faster transmission medium to service its expanding customer base.

The CTO pointed out that there would be further expansion by 516 km and 144km on the existing 8,476km Y’ello Bahn backbone and 3,500 kilometres fibre optic cable network, respectively.

He recalled that the 3,500 km fibre optic cable network, MTN Nigeria first privately built network at a cost of $100 million, which was launched in 2006.

“Its next phase of expansion in 2007, which will be the Port Harcourt – Warri route, will support unlimited transmission capacity and high quality service,” he said, stressing that MTN Nigeria’s fibre optic network is the longest private fibre optic network superhighway on the continent.

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