NTEL Announces Commercial Roll out, Focuses on SAT 3


NTEL the consortium that finally bought over the old behemoth, national telecommunication company NITEL finally announced its roll out plans, pitching its services into the fray of a very  competitive field.

The announcement comes at a time when the local economy is tanking, badly hit by dwindling receipts from oil and gas. Poor performance of the bourse, and  slower economic growth in the emerging markets of Brazil, India, Latin America, Africa. Making these markets less attractive for foreign investment.

The new operator will be offering 4G LTE telephony as well as broadband data off its SAT 3 submarine fibreoptic cable.

So what are the prospects for the new telcom in today’s operating environment? How will the launch of its 4G LTE compete with existing telecoms well established in the country?  

Today’s direction for mobile telephony is growing towards data, and the  reasons are not far fetched. The digital revolution in social media has  made the globe more interconnected than ever before. Cloud computing is revolutionising the way we use and store data, accessed from mini portable devices.

Conventional wisdom says the new telecom company’s comparative advantage over its competitors should be its inheritance of the ‘last mile’ assets from the old national telephone carrier which wired most housholds across the country for fixed landlines.

Last Mile infrastructure, has been a niggling problem for the submarine communication providers in the country.  No matter the investment  in providing data carrying fibreoptic cables from Europe, Asia to Africa. If the infrastructure required in getting the fibreoptic cables to households and businesses, is not there, then  real broadband capabilities and benefits such as fast download, upload speeds carrying large data, telephony over the internet, Video, CableTV etc  cannot be derived, at affordable costs. 

The comparative advantge of the existing assets which the former national carrier brings is questionable. Most of these assets are obsolete and decrepit and would be cheaper to discard as scrap, then acquire newer technical advance equipment,  probably already in the arsenal of its competitors.

The new telcom’s focus on SAT – 3 is one of these questionable assets. SAT – 3 origins come from an ambitious program dating back to the 1960’s when several countries came together to lay a fibreoptic cable from Europe to Africa, the project South Atlantic West Africa Submarine Cable was launched  bringing data to its beneficiaries via cable. SAT – 1 as it was known then was upgraded to SAT – 2 in the 1990’s and upgraded gain in 2001. This brought the data transfer speed to 340Gbit/s

How does SAT – 3 stack up against the competition among submarine cable operators in the country?

Glo – 1  launched 2012 capacity 2.5Tbits/s,  Main One 2010,  1.28Tbits/s, MTN –  WACS (West Africa Cable Systems) 2012, 5.12Tbits/s MTN ACE (Africa Coast to Europe) 2012 5.12Tbits/s. Even with an upgrade to 1Tbits/s SAT -3 still comes up short.


Maybe the new company can take a cue from the British Telecom model, which scratching the surface, had its origins back in 1846 with the Electric Telegraph Company established in the U.K as a nationwide communications network. Its monopoly of telecomunications from 1912, until it was privatised back in 1984.

As a private company, BT’s mobil telephony included BT Cellnet, then O2 which it finally sold in 2007.

BT’s cash cow was  OpenReach a subsidiary which focused on providing data over its ‘last mile copper wire infrastructure ” which prior,  was the vehicle bringing telephone landlines to households and business through out the U.K , from the days as the national carrier.

Not only has Open Reach provided the platform for  BT’s forary into CableTV (BT Sports) but with its recent acquisition of EE mobile network for £12.5b has placed BT as the major player in telecommunications in the U.K. What next CableTV? BT’s competitots should be worried.



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