NatCom Development and Investment, which provides 4G LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) services in Nigeria under the brand name ntel, plans to expand its network coverage to the city of Port Harcourt by the end of the year. The firm states that its LTE-A network, which is currently available in Lagos and Abuja, supports maximum download rates of 230Mbps, although average speeds are said to be around 60Mbps. In a separate development, Forbes reports that Nigerian businessman and former defence minister, Theophilus Danjuma, has acquired a stake in NatCom and has been appointed Board Chairman. The financial details of Danjuma’s investment and the size of the stake were not disclosed.
TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database states that NatCom formally received the assets of moribund fixed line operator Nigerian Telecommunications (NITEL) and its mobile subsidiary M-Tel in April 2015, after it emerged as the highest bidder in the government’s ‘guided liquidation’ process with an offer of USD252.25 million. NatCom pledged to invest USD1 billion in the deployment of fixed and mobile services by 2020, signing network rollout partnership agreements with Ericsson and Huawei. ntel made its first on-net test data call in Lagos in January 2016, followed by its first voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) call a month later in partnership with Ericsson and Sony Electronics of Japan. Commercial LTE-A services – utilising carrier aggregation (CA) technology in the 900MHz and 1800MHz bands – were switched on in Lagos and Abuja in April 2016. The operator is aiming for 4G mobile broadband coverage of 85% within three years and about 95% within five years of launch.