Mafab Communications, the newest member of the telecom industry and one of the owners of the three 5G licence issued by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) plans to leverage existing infrastructure to deploy its service across the country.
According to the International Telecommunication Union, infrastructure sharing is an alternative that lowers the cost of network deployment, especially in rural areas or marginal markets.
“Mobile infrastructure sharing may also stimulate migration to new technologies and mobile broadband deployment. It may also enhance competition between mobile operators and service providers when safeguards are used to prevent anti-competitive,” the ITU noted. The NCC also has a guideline on infrastructure collocation or sharing.
In the case of Mafab Communications which will operate under the brand name Mcom, infrastructure sharing is not merely an alternative, it is more of a survival strategy. A source told BusinessDay that the company has been able to build 50 cell sites by January and is aiming to increase it to 100 by February before the launch held on 24 January in Abuja and 26 January in Lagos.
The launch notwithstanding, Mafab says the service has not gone commercial yet. In other words, prospective consumers would not be able to access the service yet. But Mafab Communication is looking to make a big impression when its service goes live in six cities – Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kaduna, Kano, and Enugu.
Bayo Onibanjo, a spokesperson for Mafab said the company will offer voice service to subscribers of the new network from day one alongside its 5G network. The company plans to be strategic in the markets where it rolls out its service.
“We are to identify the markets that we are going to go after and install base stations in those areas and continue to expand as traffic goes up,” Onibanjo said.
Ajibola Olude, chief operating officer of the Association of Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ATCON) said the Mafab approach is in line with the tenets of collocation in the Nigerian telecom industry.
“The whole essence of collocation is to make entry into the market easy. The fact that it is using existing infrastructure gives impetus to the tower company to further investments into the spread of telecommunications infrastructure and broadband penetration will also be impacted positively,” Olude said.