Ericsson to manage MTN network in Nigeria

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MTN Group has awarded a contract to Ericsson to manage its networks in Nigeria for five years.

The agreement is for MTN networks in Lagos, Abuja, Enugu and Port Harcourt in the most populous African country where MTN is the largest operator with 45 million subscribers.

MTN would now be able to focus more on customer experience, while Ericsson would become Johannesburg-based MTN’s largest managed services partner in Africa, the Stockholm-based Ericsson said yesterday.

MTN and rivals have clashed previously with the Nigerian Communications Commission over poor quality of service on cellular networks. In 2012, MTN and Etisalat were each fined 360 million naira (about R24m at yesterday’s exchange rate).

On November 19 last year, MTN signed a contract with Ericsson and Chinese networking and telecoms equipment firm Huawei to maintain its Nigerian network. Ericsson said last year it planned to expand its network management services in Africa as more phone firms outsourced the technical side of their businesses, Bloomberg reported yesterday.

The Swedish company was pushing the expansion of fourth generation (4G) high-speed performance networks on the continent although it believed that the bulk of new subscriptions by 2019 would remain for services on 3G networks. Ericsson was prioritising the roll-out of mobile television in addition to operations and business support systems, Fredrik Jejdling, Ericsson’s head for sub-Saharan Africa, said this week.

Ericsson’s core business is building and running networks. It said 40 percent of the traffic on the continent was channelled through its equipment.

About 15 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s population is covered by broadband networks. Ericsson has projected this to grow to 65 percent by 2019 as operators diversify their income away from voice to data revenue. MTN shares rose 2.75 percent to close at R200.69 yesterday. – Bloomberg, Reuters and Asha Speckman

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