18 Sep 2013
Newly-relaunched Liberian cellco Novafone (the former Comium Liberia, which was taken over by new investors in July 2012) has announced its full commercial launch under the new brand, with coverage of around 85%-90% of the country. The mobile operator has deployed a Dual Carrier (DC)-HSPA+ platform across its network, supporting theoretical downlink transmission speeds of up to 42Mbps, which it markets as ‘4G’.
Speaking to TeleGeography, Novafone CEO Chady Salim stressed that his company is not affiliated to former owner Comium Group, from which it received its 900MHz/1800MHz wireless licence as part of last year’s buyout. The concession is valid until 2024, when it is renewable for a further 20 years. Meanwhile, Novafone also holds a ten-year 3G/4G licence, which allows it to use a 15MHz spectrum block in the 2100MHz band. Salim disclosed that the company has targeted a 20% market share in the short-term. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the company accounted for 10.4% of the wireless market at the end of June 2013.
TeleGeography notes that the Comium Group faces an uncertain future in Africa; its debt-laden operation in Cote d’Ivoire is currently up for sale, with likely suitors named as India’s Bharti Airtel and Nigeria’s Globacom. Meanwhile, media reports circulated earlier this month suggesting that Comium’s Sierra Leone subsidiary was raided by the authorities over unpaid debts, and its future hangs in the balance.