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Nigeria: ntel's strategic SAT-3 move ahead of 4G LTE battle

Nigeria: ntel's strategic SAT-3 move ahead of 4G LTE battle.

ntel has repaired its SAT-3/WASC/SAFE or South Atlantic 3/West Africa Submarine Cable – this as the scramble to capture more subscribers with fast speed internet, data, voice and video services intensifies among 3G and 4G mobile operators in Nigeria.

The company will leverage access to SAT-3, the longest submarine cable in the world with 17 landing points linking Portugal/Europe to South Africa and connections to several West African countries, to better address the needs of data-hungry locals.

It forms part of the SAT-3/WASC/SAFE cable system, with the SAFE cable linking South Africa to Asia which provides a path between Europe and Asia for telecom traffic as an alternative to the cable routes that pass through the Middle East.

Kamar Abass, CEO of ntel, says the SAT-3 repair included the cable's physical diversion from shipping lanes to the Port of Lagos to avoid traffic disruptions.

According to Abass the system's Upgrade IV will boost capacity from 420Gbps to 920Gbps in the northern segments and from 340Gbps to 800Gbps in the southern segments.

It also opens the cable to potential customers including GSM and LTE operators, ISPs and private telecom operators, he said.

ntel made its first test VoLTE call in Nigeria in February at its new Tier III data centre in Lagos following its first data and first SIP voice calls in January and February respectively.

Though ntel had promised a March launch into the market, it initiated a one-month number reservation campaign beginning 8 March to offer prospective subscribers the opportunity to pick and reserve up to five numbers of their choice.

Battle lines drawn

A more intensive battle in Africa's largest telecom subscribers market looms amongst operators, fuelled by the expected entry of additional 4G LTE networks by ntel, MTN (following its acquisition of Visafone) and Intercellular Nigeria.

Smile was the first operator in West Africa to offer commercial VoLTE service and has commenced with the service on its 4G LTE network across major cities in Nigeria.

Intercellular Nigeria has scheduled its 4G LTE launch in Q2 of 2016 in key cities, having chosen Huawei to carry out the migration of its Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) network to a 4G LTE technology.

There are indications that MTN may not run Visafone as a CDMA operator as initially planned prior to its acquisition and rather integrate it into its GSM operation to run it as a 4G LTE network.

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