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Zain Nigeria signs deal to expand network

Zain hires Motorola to increase capacity of network in key African market.

Zain Nigeria signs deal to expand network
Zain plans to boost GSM coverage in rural areas of Nigeria.

Zain Nigeria has hired Motorola to expand the coverage and capacity of its GSM network.

The project will expand Zain's network to cover people in rural areas previously left without GSM services, the company said.

The project, which is due to be completed in the first quarter of 2010, also involves a software upgrade that will improve data services and overall quality of service for Zain's mobile users in rural areas.

"The increased network capacity being deployed will advance the way people connect and will positively impact Zain's future offering in Nigeria," said Raphael Udeogu, director of sales for Central and Sub Saharan Africa, Home & Networks Mobility, Motorola.

Zain is investing significantly in Nigeria, and is also working with Nokia Siemens Networks, which is handling the maintenance and management of its 4000km fibre back bone.

Data is also becoming an increasingly important factor for Nigeria's operators, according to Mladen Risticevic, Nigeria country director for Nokia Siemens Networks. He said that Zain, along with other operators, is looking to catch up with MTN which currently has the widest 3G coverage in the country, with 1,700 sites. Zain is planning to deploy 1500 data sites within the next two to three years in order to increase its market share, according to Risticevic.

Zain is currently the third biggest of Nigeria's five GSM operators, with some 14.4 million subscribers as of June 2009, according to UK based telecoms consultancy, Onda Analytics. This compares with MTN's subscriber base of 27.3 million, and Globacom's base of 15.9 million.

Nigeria is one of Africa's fastest growing telecom markets, with a population of 150 million people and a mobile penetration rate of about 40%.

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