Nigeria’s four biggest operators – MTN, Airtel, Etisalat and Globacom – will commercially roll-out 4G LTE networks by 2017, according to Leadership newspaper.
Industry sources close to the Nigerian daily reports the operators are ready to launch their 4G offering once the country’s broadcasting regulator releases digital dividend spectrum bands to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), enabling the telecoms regulator to then hold an auction.
Digital dividend spectrum will be released once television broadcasters switch from analogue to digital only platforms, according to the publication, which require less spectrum to operate. GSM operators on the 2100MHz bands would then move to the new band slots as a result.
According to the report, GSM/EDGE remains the most popular technology for mobile subscriptions in sub-Saharan Africa at the moment, accounting for 70 per cent of the base.
According to Ericsson’s latest mobility report, data traffic in the region will grow 15 times by 2021, driven largely by a rapid uptake of LTE, with smartphones accounting for 95 per cent of mobile data traffic.
MTN, Nigeria’s market leader, has been in the headlines recently after NCC imposed a $5.2 billion fine on the operator, over its failure to cut off unregistered SIM cards from its network.
The regulator has since cut the fine to $3.9 billion after ongoing talks between the parties, but the situation threatens to drag on after MTN said last week it would mount a legal challenge over the dispute.
Amid the controversy, MTN renewed its operating licence in the country for another five years, through to 2021.