By Emma Okonji
In order to expand its ongoing drive for subscriber acquisition and brand visibility, ntel, the fifth entrant into the Nigerian GSM space, which acquired NITEL and MTel, has said it will launch its national roaming plan across the country by April this year.
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of ntel, Mr. Ernest Debo Akinlola who made the disclosure at the weekend in Lagos, during a breakfast meeting organised by Nigeria Information Technology Reporters’s Association (NITRA), said ntel has successfully concluded the proof of concept, which is the trial testing of its national roaming plan with the 9mobile network, and witnessed by the telecoms industry regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
Having successfully carried out the trial testing of our national roaming plan, the NCC has given approval for ntel to carry out trial launch with MTN and as soon as that is done, we hope to extend it to other GSM networks in the country, Akinlola said.
In technical parlance, national roaming is the ability for a network operator to provide a platform where its customers could automatically make and receive telephone calls, send and receive data, or access other services while travelling outside the geographical coverage area of the home network, by means of using a network of another operator.
“We are looking at launching our national roaming plan in April this year, which will give us the opportunity to have services everywhere and our customers could access our services from any part of the country where there is telecoms presence,” Akinlola told journalists at the breakfast meeting.
Explaining the level of development it has reached with its national roaming plan, Akinlola said: “We have reached advanced stage with 9mobile in our national roaming plan, we have carried out a proof of concept, which is a trial test, and which the NCC witnessed and it was very successful. Mobile terminating calls and SMS were successfully delivered in the trial test that we carried out. We are just finalising the pricing in terms of national terminating call rates.”
Speaking on the expected value that the roaming plan will bring to the ntel brand, he said it would give the ntel brand, the opportunity to rollout and acquire more customers across the country. We just got approval from NCC to do a trial launch with MTN, and we will do same with other networks as soon as NCC gives us the approval to do so, he added.
Head of Marketing at ntel, Mr. Jide Mafolabomi said the telecoms company currently has presence in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt, with 72 per cent coverage of the entire Lagos and 60 per cent coverage in Port Harcourt, and that ntel has plans to be in 18 states of the federation in the next one year.
He also said ntel would be launching its recharge card denominations by next week across all its coverage areas.
We have plans to go beyond virtual airtime, to recharge cards, through which everybody will have access to ntel. “We are introducing recharge cards next week and we are beginning with N500 recharge card and above, but with time, our dealers can print smaller denominations through ePIN,” Mafolabomi said.