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MTN plans 9mobile spectrum acquisition

MTN Nigeria is in talks with 9mobile to acquire its operating spectrum.

The spectrum trade deal between Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services Limited and MTN Nigeria is still an ongoing conversation, according to sources close to the matter.

A source told The PUNCH, “There are ongoing conversations for the acquisition of their operating spectrum, which is the only one they have. Once we get the spectrum, we have got everything too. There is an ongoing conversation.

“Once we have the spectrum, it is more like we have taken over the company. The spectrum is what they use to operate, once they don’t have it again, they can’t. I can’t confirm how much is being discussed yet.”

Since 9mobile’s technical partner and investors left, the telco has fallen on hard times, losing millions of subscribers in the process.

As of January 2016, the telco had 22.04 million mobile subscriptions, but has declined to 13.79 million as of August 2023.

Airtel, MTN Nigeria and Globacom had 33.59 million, 56.85 million and 34.004 million mobile subscriptions respectively as of January 2016.

Airtel’s mobile subscriptions had grown to 60.17 million, Glo was 61.39 million, and MTN was 85.01 million as of August this year.

When contacted, the Director of Public Affairs, NCC, Reuben Muoka, told The PUNCH that the commission was not yet aware of the ongoing conversations.

He said, “We are not aware. It is not for us to confirm. We are the regulator. It is two organisations that are discussing commercial relationships until they tell us. We are not going to confirm whether we are aware or not. We are also reading that they are having discussions. I am sure they know the appropriate thing to do.”

Efforts to confirm the story from the spokesperson for 9mobile, Chineze Amanfo, proved abortive.

When our correspondent called her, she asked our correspondent to email or a WhatsApp message to her. She had yet to respond to the WhatsApp message sent to her as of the time of filing the report.

In 2015, MTN completed the acquisition of Visafone. An MTN Executive, Amina Oyagbola, stated that the acquisition was to improve the quality of broadband services for its subscribers.

MTN didn’t get the broadband spectrum related to the acquisition until 2019.

The then President of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, Olusola Teniola, stated that the spectrum would enable the telco to extend the reach of its network in the country.

He said, “MTN is a dominant player in the voice segment and obviously they would like to ensure that they hold a leadership position in the data space.

“Any operator that has the kind of spectrum that MTN holds is in a good position to lead the market”, he added.

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