Nitel expands mobile network

Nigerian state-owned telecommunications operator Nitel has handed a US$53m contract to Ericsson to expand its GSM network.

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By  Richard Agnew Published  April 15, 2003

Nigerian state-owned telecommunications operator Nitel has handed a US$53m contract to Ericsson to expand its GSM network.

The deal, struck at the beginning of this month, has seen 400,000 new subscriber lines added to Nitel’s network, in addition to the 118,000 that were supplied by the Swedish company last year.

“There is a huge demand for GSM telephone services in Nigeria,” said Jan Embro, head of Ericsson’s market unit for southern Africa. “A quick expansion of Nitel's GSM network is very important as many Nigerians are waiting for more Nitel GSM subscriptions," he added.

The move comes as the Nigerian government is in the process of handing over control of the operator to Dutch telecommunications consultancy Pentascope International. A spokesperson for Ericsson said it had struck the deal directly with Nitel.

"We have had an excellent business relationship with Ericsson dating back to 1990 when they supplied, installed and commissioned a TACS analog cellular telephone system, thereby making Nigeria the first African country to have cellular service," said Nitel's Managing Director, Engineer E. Omeata.

Ericsson also struck a US$145m deal earlier this month to supply base stations and CDMA2000 equipment to Nigerian mobile operator Reliance Telecommunications, to support its planned launch of high-speed data and internet services by the end of the first half of this year.

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