MTN outlines XOF120bn investment plan for Cote d’Ivoire; bemoans 900MHz disparity

6 Jun 2014

MTN Group has announced plans to invest XOF120 billion (USD249 million) in Cote d’Ivoire to improve its mobile networks there. MTN Cote d’Ivoire CEO Wim Vanhelleputte told Reuters that the cellco has already invested around XOF40 billion in 2014, some of which was used to bankroll its 1,000km fibre deployment in the capital Abidjan.

In other news, Vanhelleputte has written to the Autorite de Regulation des Telecommunications/TIC de Cote d’Ivoire (ARTCI) requesting the redistribution of the country’s 900MHz spectrum resources. The letter, quoted in part by Agence Ecofin, notes: ‘Some operators have a larger [allocation] of frequencies, at the expense of others – unrelated to the size of each of the operators on the market. This situation is even more discriminatory and unfair, [because] all operators are subject to the same quality of service (QoS) obligations’. The CEO is keen to boost MTN’s 900MHz spectrum holdings in order to better serve rural areas.

According to a data table reprinted by Agence Ecofin, Orange holds the lion’s share of 900Hz frequencies (20MHz), followed by MTN (14.4MHz) and stricken fellow operator Comium (13.6MHz). Meanwhile, Warid, which has never actually launched a cellular network in the country, is said to hold a similar 900MHz allocation (7.6MHz) to Moov (8.6MHz), the market’s third-largest player. Neither GreenN or market minnow Aircom (Cafe Mobile) currently hold 900MHz frequencies, it notes.

Côte d'Ivoire, Aircom (Cafe Mobile), Autorite de Regulation des Telecommunications de CI (ARTCI), Comium Cote d'Ivoire (Koz), GreenN Cote d'Ivoire (formerly Oricel), Moov Cote d'Ivoire, MTN Cote d'Ivoire (incl. MTN Business), Orange Cote d'Ivoire (incl. CI-Telecom), Warid Telecom (Cote d'Ivoire)