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Fate of 9mobile may hobble national roaming deal with ntel

Though latest entrant to the nation’s telecoms industry and broadband operator, ntel, has flagged off a national roaming field trial with troubled telecommunications network operator, 9mobile, industry analysts are apprehensive that the deal may run into hitches following observed uncertainties hanging over its ongoing sale process.

It would be recalled that 9mobile had been in the news for some time now due to its default to $1.2bn facility contributed for it by a consortium of 13 indigenous banks.

At the point of access, the telecoms, formally Etisalat claimed that it will use the fund for network expansion and upgrade but the recent turn of events leading to default have cast doubt on whether the fund was actually used for what it was secured for in the first instance.

Already, the National Assembly has adopted a motion to probe the 9mobile loan default as part of drive to get to the root of the crisis that saw the pullout of the original investors, the Mudabala Group of UAE.

Besides, more trouble awaits 9moblie as the given 180 days by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) are nearing completion without any clear headway to the sale even though the former transaction advisor, Backcley’s Africa had pullout after it was accused of poor transparency and was queried by the apex bank on its complicity.

However, ntel in a statement had said it had received regulatory approval from the Nigerian Communications Commission to commence the national roaming trial over a period of two months.

The agreement will enable ntel customers to make calls on 9mobile’s network using any 2G or 3G mobile phone or smartphone within the specified trial zone.

In his remarks, the Chief Executive Officer, ntel, Ernest Akinlola, said the agreement was a significant step in the right direction for the firm and the telecommunications ecosystem.

The full national roaming agreement with 9mobile will provide both firms’ growing customer base with seamless services over 4G/LTE superfast data and voice clarity.

Akinlola averred that “We are pleased to be charting a new path for the industry as we at ntel and 9mobile regard ourselves as pioneers in innovation”.

The national roaming test deal had commenced on both networks since December 1, even though checks on the success were hard to confirm as the two firms failed to reveal areas covered in the test run but listed some pilot states. National roaming partnership allows a network with Base Transceiver Station (BTS) inadequacies to enjoy similar facilities of its partner and also allows same partner to tap into its BTS coverage in its own area of non-presence.

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