MTN faces challenge over Nigeria spectrum

Nigerian telecommunications operator Etisalat is taking rival MTN to court over the latter's plan to use acquisition target Visafone's spectrum in the 800MHz band.

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Nigerian telecommunications operator Etisalat is taking rival MTN to court over the latter’s plan to use acquisition target Visafone’s spectrum in the 800MHz band, it has been reported.

Nigeria’s Daily Post reported at the weekend that Etisalat has instituted legal action against MTN Nigeria and Visafone over the use of the valuable spectrum.

TechCentral reported in January that MTN had gone ahead with the acquisition of Visafone after receiving regulatory approval for the deal from the Nigerian Communications Commission, the same body that has fined it US$3,9bn (R63,1bn) for failing to cut off 5m unregistered Sim cards.

The Visafone deal gives MTN access to spectrum that is well suited to building a 4G/LTE network offering widespread coverage, including in rural parts of Nigeria. No value has been attached to the transaction.

Visafone was founded in 2007 by Nigerian business Jim Ovia and focused on the now-outdated code division multiple access or CDMA technology that enjoyed some popularity in the last decade. The technology has long since been superseded by GSM-based mobile technologies.

But MTN’s acquisition has now hit a hurdle, with Etisalat objecting to MTN getting access to Visafone’s spectrum.

Daily Post reported that Etisalat is concerned that the spectrum will allow MTN to deploy broadband services ahead of its rivals and further entrench the company’s dominance in Nigeria’s telecommunications sector.

According to MTN Nigeria executive Amina Oyagbola, MTN has filed “appropriate processes before the court for necessary determination”.

“The acquisition of Visafone was concluded after obtaining all necessary statutory and regulatory approvals,” Oyagbola said.

MTN’s share price was last quoted at R139,80/share, down by 1% on the session. The counter has added 5,2% since the beginning of the year but is trading down by 34,1% year on year.  — (c) 2016 NewsCentral Media

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  • Magomarele Gomi Thobejane

    It seems every struggling business wants to milk out MTN. The way I see it this should not be taken up with MTN but the regulator.