The Nigerian telecommunication is dominated by GSM operators as shown by NCC data above. There are four major companies operating within this segment including MTN, Globacom, Airtel and 9Mobile. However, there are other telecommunication companies such as Ntel, which runs a 4G LTE service, Smile, ipNX etc.
MTN Nigeria is a South African company with subsidiaries across Africa and the Middle East. MTN was among the first two GSM operators to launch in Nigeria when it secured an operating license from the NCC in 2001. It is reputed for its extended network coverage, which is considered an advantage in a country as Nigeria with a large landmass and population.
Globacom Limited is the first indigenous GSM mobile provider in Nigeria and has also expanded its service to other African countries such as Ghana, Togo and Cote d’Ivoire, where it provides GSM services. In 2010 Globacom made history when it launched its Glo 1 international submarine cable, the only of such kind in Nigeria, which provides sufficient bandwidth for the West Africa sub-region.
The company 9Mobile (formerly Etisalat Nigeria) was launched in 2017 after Etisalat defaulted on its US$1.2bn loan. Today 9mobile is a Nigerian private limited liability company owned by Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services Ltd (EMTS). EMTS acquired a Unified Access Service License from the Nigerian Communications Commission in 2007 which enables it to provide fixed telephony (wired or wireless), digital mobile services, international gateway services and national/regional long-distance services, in addition to spectrum assignments in the 900 and 1800 MHz bands. It also launched its 4G LTE services in October 2016, with the aim to deliver high-speed data and quality voice services in Nigeria.
Airtel Nigeria has evolved over time. It started operations as Econet Nigeria before changing the name to Vodacom, then VMobile, Celtel, Zain and most recently Airtel. The change of names is a consequence of changes in the ownership structure of the company. Airtel Nigeria’s operations started in 2010 after taking over ownership from Zain.
Ntel is an offshoot of Nigeria’s national fixed and mobile operator (Nitel and Mtel). Both companies were acquired by NatCom Development and Investment Limited (Natcom) through a liquidation process supervised and approved by the Nigerian Bureau of Public Enterprises in May 2015. Ntel operates as a national carrier, international gateway and mobile telecommunications company. Ntel operates 4G LTE services across the country.
Smile provides 4G LTE mobile broadband services, with a data speed of up to 21Mbps, in all its countries of operation. It launched Africa’s first commercial 4G LTE network in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in May 2013 – revolutionising the way people access information online. Since then, Smile has extended its coverage in Tanzania to seven regions and also launched commercially in Uganda in June 2013, with coverage expanded to 14 cities. In March 2014 Smile launched West-Africa’s first 4G LTE mobile broadband services in Nigeria with coverage now extended to eight cities.
IpNX is one of Nigeria’s fastest growing Information and Communications Technology companies, serving a multitude of needs across enterprises, small businesses and residents with innovative, world-class services. As a pioneer and a leading fixed-network operator in Nigeria, it provides a number of solutions to various industries and market segments using industry-leading technology such as the country’s very own Fibre-To-The-Home (FTTH) cable technology, as the core access network infrastructure, and fixed wireless radio services (WiMAX). Fortunately, there is no law or policy that requires telcos to share users’ data with the government in Nigeria.