News Column

Etisalat Plans U.S.$300 Million Investments On Network Expansion, Upgrades

August 18, 2014

Adeyemi Adepetun and Bankole Orimisan

TELECOMMUNICATIONS firm, Etisalat is to invest $300 million (N48 billion) on network expansion and necessary upgrade in Nigeria before the year ends.

Etisalat, which is the fourth largest telecommunications firm in Nigeria however, claimed that almost six years into its operations in Nigeria, it was yet to make profit.

At a media interaction with journalists at the weekend, the newly appointed Chief Executive Officer of the telecoms firm, Matthew Willsher, who disclosed all these, said the firm currently has 19.5 million subscribers.

He explained that the firm's subscriber number jumped from 15.3 million last year to 19.5 million this year, which is a 15 per cent growth.

While noting the telecoms firm has continued to invest in network expansion to offer top-rated quality services to its growing subscribers, Willsher, however, said the company has not been making profits.

"We have been investing back into the business all the revenue we make into further investing and we're not yet close to breaking even But we are optimistic that, encouraged by the growth we are seeing and our rating by the regulator as leader on quality service delivery, we would soon be making profits; but as of now, we are not profitable," he said.

Willsher stated that Etisalat is also rolling out its mobile broadband network to provide quality data experience to its subscribers.

"We want to be the best quality network. We want to have superior mobile broadband experience. As such we continue to invest heavily on the network to ensure that we dimension or network to cope with the number of subscribers we have on our network. Today, we are about the only operators with about 99 per cent uptime in service delivery," he added.

Giving details how it was able to achieve and maintained the feat for six years running, Willsher said the firm has been involved in good planning in terms of the volume of connectivity recorded so far, heavy investments in terms of network rollout, commitment in terms of staff dedication to duty, and 24 hours regular maintenance of its base stations and sites in terms of prompt fixing of faults as they occur.

Speaking further, the Director, Engineering, Etisalat, Temi Ogunbambi, said, though the company has sold over 2000 of its passive towers to an infrastructure sharing company, IHS, Etisalat currently has 7,000 base stations and 4,000 sites across the country. "By the end of this year, we should have up to 5,000 sits. We have sold our passive sits to IHS, which will now be collocated with other operators," he said.

Ogunbambi explained that Etisalat has increased its telecoms subscriptions to over from 15.3 million to 19.5 million, with 15 per cent market share in the country. "We have upgraded 2, 100 exiting base stations with 2G and 3G capabilities to cater to the data need of our customers who are not in tune with using smartphone with quality internet experience. "In a number of states, we have built extensive metro fibre network to give our customers superior services. We have also had to build national and international fibre links.

So, the investment we are making will make us achieve our goal of best quality service, improved network and rich contents, reduction in drop calls, slow data access and so on," he said.

He also stated that Etisalat was the first network in the country to deploy HSPA+, which s the latest 3G to support increased data speed. "As we are investing in network expansion, we are also investing in training our engineers who daily collect data of the service usage status to ensure that we manage the network very well; to know where the traffic is growing so that we make more network capacity available there and vice versa," he added.

Meanwhile, Wilsher promised to ensure that his tenure is synonymous with superlative services for the subscribers, even as he urged the industry regulator to continue creating an enabling environment and a level-playing growth for all the players by implementing to the letter, all its initiatives aimed at sustaining healthy competition in the industry.

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Source: AllAfrica

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