Hello! It’s ntel on the line

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Hello! It’s ntel on the line

Hello! It’s ntel on the line
November 04
09:25 2016

Releases first Nigerian 4G Voice Over LTE application on Google Play Store

By Babatunde Joel

“This is the first time a Voice Over LTE application that is native to a Nigerian network is being hosted on Google Play Store.” Speaking on the launch of the application, Kamar Abass, ntel Chief Executive Officer.

But for ntel’s intervention, connecting to a Nigerian 4GLTE network on the Android App Play Store (constituting 88% of the global smart phone market as at Q3 2016) before now would have been a mirage.

This is 2016, some 20 years after the gradual collapse of the National behemoth, NITEL, as the floodgates to the once impenetrable telecom industry came open. Fellow countrymen were glad to see the industry grow before their eyes. Millions of subscribers and still counting! More improved gadgets, a departure from the NITEL phone booths.

But way up somewhere in the minds of keen watchers and even bystanders, questions were asked; where is NITEL?

From the first attempt in 2001 by International London Limited (ILL) to acquire 51 percent of the NITEL entity as it was then, to Pentascope, Orascom and even Transcorp in 2006. We came into 2010 with hopes raised high by New Generation Communications Limited, the preferred bidder in the strategic core investor sales auction round that year and after a failure to meet up with its financial obligations to BPE, unto Omen the reserved bidder we took our anticipations but still ended up in despair. Sad as it may be, none of these knights could save the deteriorating beauty of the nation’s pride.

December 3, 2014
“It is common belief in the Nigerian press and in the business and Government circles that the privatization of NITEL is jinxed. Today’s event shows that the jinx is broken.” – Olutola Senbore, Authorized liquidator, NITEL/MTEL, during the takeover ceremony of NITEL by NATCOM Consortium.

With a jilted and doubtful heart, and understandably so, the news that NITEL/MTEL had been sold through a guided liquidation process to NATCOM Consortium after a transparent process that saw 16 other firms in a contest for the salvation of the soul of our national repute. Though, flawless by global best practice. Many had lost faith on this tiring journey. While even firm optimists at best, sat on the fence. Many were more concerned as to the reality of seeing this entity come back to life. Not after its switch exchanges, cables, prime buildings and even brand goodwill had been vandalized, sold or stripped off by all sorts of vultures.

“Son of man, will these bones ever live?”
Taking a leap of faith on what many had termed a curse, NATCOM then swerved into action immediately. Amidst a keenly contested Telecom market, the ntel brand was birthed.

The assets in the array of the acquisition included licenses& spectrum, fixed wired networks, national right of way duct system, fibre optic transmission backbone, CDMA network system, international gateway earth stations, microwave transmission network, towers, mobile switching centers, base station controllers, base receiver stations, general packet radio services, analogue (TAC) system and an international submarine cable.

However, many of these assets were now as ancient as the Egyptian pyramids in technology terms. The world had now moved beyond the Analogue technology on which NITEL once relied upon for its national dominance. CDMA technology was fast fading and almost irrelevant in the search for qualitative tech services by users.

ntel however has put up a Midas touch on the once dry bones of NITEL’s assets. The SAT-3 which seemed to be one of the few viable assets still available had continue to suffer incidences causing cable cuts such as incursion by ships berthing at the port or for instance, the development of the Eko Atlantic sea wall. The new management has since redirected its (SAT-3) course to considerable kilometers outside areas where intrusions are more likely.

From Analogue (TAC) System to 4G Advanced LTE
“We have further cemented our brand’s promise with this partnership (with ntel) that allows users make calls and browse at super-fast speeds without interruption. This is definitely a great value added experience.” – Director and Business Leader, Information Technology and Mobile, Samsung Electronics West Africa commenting on ntel’s 4G/LTE device and network compatibility on Samsung devices, making it the first Telco in Africa to achieve that feat.

From one of the most archaic form of telephony technology, Analogue Total Access Communication System (which NITEL gleefully operated), ntel today boasts as the only operator of a 4th Generation Advanced Long Term Evolution Network on a National Spectrum license.

According to Industry sources, broadband penetration across the country is just at 10 percent with an industry projected target of 30% by 2018. ntel today, is the only network capable of placing Advanced 4G on mobile gadgets (the major growth indicator in PC Sales in recent times) courtesy of the new management’s seamless connectivity of its vast national right of way channel (the largest in the country) with SAT-3’s massive global network stretching from Europe through the West coast of Africa downwards to South Africa.

ntel has indeed placed the country on several pedestals up among the league of societies with ultra-efficient telephony when it made the first ever Voice over Long Term Evolution (VoLTE) call in Nigeria from its Tier 3 data center in the Lagos Island area of Lagos at exactly 3:30pm on Thursday, February 25, 2016. In a statement issued by ntel, it stated, “The VoLTE call was completed in partnership with Original Equipment Manufacturers L M Ericsson of Sweden and Sony Electronics of Japan. This follows ntel’s first data call on January 18, and its first SIP voice call on February18. ntel will now progress work with Nigeria’s other mobile operators and international partners to perform cross-network VoLTE calls: This will ensure that ntel’s customers can connect as easily as they can to customers in Nigeria and elsewhere in the world: a network now comprising more than seven billion telephones, globally.”

“This crystal-clear, high-definition VoLTE call was made via an ntel sim card and is set to be a significant differentiating factor for ntel as it progresses with the roll-out of Nigeria’s largest Advanced 4G/LTE network.”

A cursory look at the numbers will show that on 2G, the norm is about 1 megabit per second; for 3G about 42, but on a 4G Advanced system (which ntel alone possess at this time) 300 megabits or more is achieved effortlessly, that is about seven times what the best 3G network could offer.

In a market that has outgrown the need for voice calls to data and over to more demanding video over data needs. Beyond Social media hangouts, an ultrafast technology proves to be keen. It now seeks for faster call connect times, music streaming, cloud services, TV, Video messaging, e-commerce, e-learning and hot-spot services.

In a recent interview, when asked about ability to reach out to the mass segment of the market, Mr. Kamar Abass, CEO of ntel said; “ntel’s approach is to build Nigeria’s highest speed mobile broadband network, focus on state-wide coverage, rather than hotspot only, and provide high volume internet access via unlimited usage packages.”

“ntel is presently Nigeria’s largest 4G/LTE network in Abuja and will shortly record this distinction in Lagos by the end of September, ntel will be offering 4G/LTE Advanced services in Port-Harcourt and by the end of Q2, 2017 ntel will have completed its phase 2 roll out; with full coverage in 14 additional states.”

Another Crown of Glory
However, just months after Instituting Nigeria’s first ever Voice over Long Term Evolution (VoLTE) call, ntel again in a meandering feat extended the legacy role of Nitel as a pace setter, when it announced the offering of its 4GLTE Advanced services on the Google playstore App, making it the premier telco to institute such a deal.

With this, subscribers on the ntel network can now access crystal clear high definition VoLTE calls, Short Message Service (SMS over LTE) as well as other traditional features expected from a cellular voice service on Android operating system devices (from Android 5.X version upwards). It has also promised that users of the Apple iOS version need not worry as plans to integrate it into this flagship service are in progress.

It is more than certain that this entity ntel has come to stay; Nigerians for sure would keep a close watch as it progresses towards a more resounding turnaround. If it continues with such strides, though the fifth commercial telecom operator in the country, it would definitely not be the least.

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