Stakeholders in the country’s telecommunications industry have expressed their reservation on the ability of NATCOM the new owners of Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) and its subsidiary Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTEL) to revive the distressed national carrier.
This is coming as fallout of the recent approval given by the federal government to hand over NITEL/MTEL facilities to NATCOM consortium having completed the payment of $252.251million cost of acquisition.
Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) Gbenga Adebayo, said he don’t have details of the transaction and NATCOM Consortium’s financial strength, adding that being able to raise the sum they bided shows they are serious to compete in the telecom market.
Adebayo affirmed that NITEL/MTEL under the present owners will now be late starters and urged them to create impact through innovative and value added services to attract subscribers to its network.
He explained that NATCOM has to carry out a complete re-engineering of NITEL’s infrastructure as some of the loop may have been blocked or destroyed by as a result of road constructions, and solicited for the support of Nigerians to help them survive the stiff competitive telecom market.
O his part, immediate past president, Association Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) and group managing director, Teledom Group Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, said that NATCOM Consortium has a opportunity of surviving in the already crowded telecom market in the country and encouraged them to focus on providing landline which is currently none existence in the country.
“We should remember that NITEL has telephone exchanges in almost all the local government across the country, although, some of the cable and switches may be obsolete, but the real estate, towers, racks and power cable are still useful,” he said.
He urged NATCOM Consortium to look inward by providing Nigerians fibre to home service that can give people access to broadband and cable television.
Speaking in the same vein, the President, National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers of Nigeria (NATCOMS) Deolu Ogunbanjo, said that NATCOM Consortium need to concentrate more on its unique selling preposition which is landline service that also goes along with broadband service.
“They are coming at a time when the policy guideline required for broadband penetration has been established by the minister of Communications Technology. It is only for them to key in to the policy through investment in that area. They should look at Etisalat model that surprised everybody,” Ogunbanjo said.
It would be recalled that at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) mandated the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) to handover the two companies to NATCOM consortium, having paid the cost of acquisition which brought the process to a close.