MTN Nigeria, the biggest operator in the pan-African MTN Group in terms of subscriber numbers, says it is planning to invest 600 billion naira (about $1.46 billion) over the next three years to expand broadband access.
According to the Reuters news service, MTN Nigeria’s CEO Karl Toriola said on an analyst call that the operator was boosting its 4G coverage and providing home broadband as part of a rural connectivity programme.
MTN Nigeria plans to connect around 1,000 rural communities to its network this year. It will bring connectivity to a further 2,000 communities next year.
Toriola agreed that mobile subscriber numbers for the first half of the year were down (to 68.9 million, a fall of 9.9 percent from December 2020). However, MTN Nigeria, like other operators in the market, has pointed out that subscriber numbers have been affected by the government-led SIM registration drive that has been big news for much of this year.
The operator had said earlier this year that it was at an advanced stage in renewing its operating spectrum and licence in Nigeria for another 10 years from September. However, earlier this week the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) pointed out that the regulatory process to renew MTN Nigeria’s operating licence was still under way.
While there is surely little to worry about, MTN Nigeria will no doubt want a measure of certainty on this issue well before the expected auctioning of 5G spectrum, which is, in theory, happening in the fourth quarter of this year.