Wednesday, July 01, 2009

We'll run NITEL efficiently, if - Globacom

In spite of the determination of the Second National Operator (SNO) Globacom to have a bite of the first National Operator, the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL), currently being unbundled by the Bureau for Public Enterprise (BPE), experts have insisted that Glo can’t bid for NITEL.

Their arguments have been that it’s morally unjustifiable for Glo to bid for NITEL.
They also said that the attempt will make mess of NCC’s position in terms of providing and entrenching fair competitive environment for investors in the nation’s telecom sector.

ITRealms Online recalls that Globacom, last weekend, reiterated its plans to bid for the moribund NITEL, whenever the bid opens and promises to revitalize the organization, according to Head, Network Operations at Globacom, Mr. Aremu Olajide.

“Glo will bring NITEL back to life I can assure you,” he asserted.

But reacting to media reports on the issue, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) experts, who commented on anonymity, insisted that Globacom as matter of fact, cannot bid, let alone buy NITEL.

They argued that it is anti-competition for the SNO to embark on such journey knowing fully well that the end-result will be negative for the company.

Highly placed sources close to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), told ITRealms Online that the regulator is clear about this and the likelihood is that Globacom may not be allowed to even start the process, except if it really wants to waste its money.

Equally, another close source at the Ministry of Information and Communication (FMIC) who spoke in tandem with the position of these experts, said that Globacom should focus on execution of its current licenses 100 per cent.

But despite the legally-linked opposition to Globacom’s desire to acquire NITEL, the SNO said, it’s determined to make its dreams come through and is keenly waiting for the whistle blower, BPE, to call the shots.

BPE’s planned break up of NITEL into five separate units is to attract more interest from investors in the ailing telecom operator.

Noteworthy is that the federal government on June 1, 2009, regained full control of the first national operator and its mobile subsidiary, Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTel), citing breach of post-sale service agreement as reasons for retrieving NITEL from Transnational Corporation (TRANSCORP) Plc.

BPE’s plan is to split NITEL into South Atlantic 3 (SAT-3) undersea cable, the analogue cellular phone STAC and Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) to be separated from the fixed line operation, as said by BPE spokesman, Mr. Joe Anichebe,

He also said that already each of these five entities have operating license attached to it, which would be renewed as soon as the sale is concluded.

However, SAT-3 is Nigeria’s main gateway for international calls and Internet connections, though experts have postulated that since Glo-1 is about to be delivered on Nigerian soil, the SNO has no need of bidding for NITEL, since its original licenses encompassed all the license of NITEL, just as another Nigerian bound cable - MainOne Cable, is expected to land in the country in October this year.

ITRealms Online recollects that following the pricing by Orascom Consortium of Egypt for the organization at $256.5 million recently, which did not reach the price paid by MTel, a subsidiary of NITEL to obtain its Global System for Mobile communications (GSM), President of Nigeria Internet Group (NIG), Mr. Lanre Ajayi, had predicted that as much as it is important to deregulate the telecoms sector by finally privatizing NITEL, the group bemoans the attitude to sell at all cost and called for unbundling of the telco.

Mr. Ajayi, who is a former NITEL’s employee, said the objective of massive rollout which the sale was anticipated to achieve would be defeated if it is disposed at a give-away price.

On the way forward, he noted that unbundling NITEL into many components, would pave the way for it to be sold one-by-one.

Expressing optimism on SAT-3 cable, he said, it would attract good pricing from one of the existing operators and the mobile service (MTel) is likely to attract good attention from international operators, who may be interested in just the mobile service.

NITEL is the nation’s first telecom carrier embodied with fixed line and mobile telecommunications company, MTel and is owned 100 per cent by the Federal Government (FG) with the sack of TRANSCORP.

It was incorporated as a limited liability company in December 1984, which was a product of the merger between the telecommunications arm of the defunct Posts and Telecommunications Department (P&T) of the then Ministry of Communications, and Nigerian External Communications Limited (NET) and commenced operations on January 1, 1985.

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