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Etisalat sues MTN Nigeria over Visafone spectrum

Etisalat sues MTN Nigeria over Visafone spectrum.

Telecoms company Etisalat has dragged MTN Nigeria before a Nigerian court to prevent the South African telecoms company from making use of the 800MHz spectrum it received following its acquisition of CDMA company Visafone announced in early January.

Etisalat argued that if MTN is allowed to make use of the spectrum, it would further establish the network's dominance in the West African country's retail data services space - this despite a declaration by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) of the mobile operator's position as the dominant operator in the country since 2013.

Chineze Amanfo, Etisalat Nigeria's Head of Media, confirmed that the telco is taking legal action against MTN to ensure healthy competition in the telecoms sector.

"The use of the 800MHz spectrum to deploy broadband services ahead of its competitors, particularly those who, prior to MTNs purchase of Visafone, held similar spectrum bands as MTN, will further entrench MTN's dominance in the Nigerian telecommunications sector," Amanfo said.

"We have, in addition and in line with Section 86 of the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003, engaged the NCC to understand the basis of its decision to approve the acquisition. As you are aware, the matter is already in court; as such, we are restrained from commenting further on the matter."

However, Amina Oyagbola, Corporate Services and Human Resources Executive at MTN Nigeria said the company acquired Visafone in order to "leverage resources for service enhancement".

She said the company, through the acquisition, would be able to reinforce the rollout of broadband services across the country. "This is in support of the National Broadband Plan, for the benefit of Nigerians."

The NCC is yet to comment on this development.

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