Globacom (Glo Mobile), Nigeria
Globacom is the latest player in the expanding mobile telecommunications market in Nigeria. The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) awarded the company the fourth Nigerian digital mobile licence in August 2002 for US$200m, along with the permission to construct the second fixed line network in the country.
Globacom was pronounced by the NCC as the 'second national operator' (SNO). Driven by the success of Globacom and GSM in Nigeria, the NCC is now considering a new round of GSM licensing and expects to award new licenses in 2006.
Globacom's GSM system was officially launched in the Nigerian capital Abuja, followed by the cities of Lagos, Ibadan, Port Harcourt and Ijebu Ode in late 2003. These met the terms of the licence requiring the provision of facilities for 150,000 mobile telecoms subscribers in the first year. By 2004 the company had a 25% market share and were prepared for even greater expansion.
Globacom currently has 5.2 million subscribers and now has capacity for 12 million more. This covers areas of population concentration and makes provision for services to be available to outlying regions of the country as well. The company is making investments into the GSM system in excess of NGN91.11bn ($724m).
Globacom still has the only 2.5G GSM network in Nigeria, although Starcomm has recently signed a deal with Chinese Huawei to construct a 3G CDMA 2000 1 × EV-DO network, which could put Globacom's nose out of joint. Globacom itself is consolidating and has signed an interconnectivity agreement with MTN, another large Nigerian operator, allowing customers to use both networks. The company has also appointed 350 dealers across the country to pull in subscribers.
NETWORK EXPANSION - MICROWAVE ANTENNAS
Siemens was commissioned to expand Globacom's GSM network into northern Nigeria in 2004. The system uses Radio Frequency Systems (RFS) equipment. RFS supplies high and ultra high performance antennas to build up a microwave backbone system for the new mobile network. The solid body antennas range in diameter from 6ft to 15ft and can provide link distances of up to 50km.
Delivery of the first batch of RFS microwave antennas was scheduled for May 2004, with installation and commissioning by Siemens to continue into early 2005. The resulting network extension provided GSM coverage to more than 20 cities and roads in the north of Nigeria. This project has now been completed with great success and Globacom is considering expanding its microwave system to improve coverage even further.
GSM NETWORK UPGRADE AND EXPANSION
Alcatel already has a good relationship with Globacom, having carried out a previous expansion project in Nigeria involving the upgrade and expansion of the GSM network to over 32 Nigerian cities in late 2003/early 2004. The deal involved the provision of an additional 100,000 fixed wireless local loops, three international gateways, a fibre optics backbone ring and additional transmission equipment across the country.
Included was the provision of Alcatel's Intelligent Network (IN) solution and messaging suite. This allowed enhanced mobile voice and data services, including 2.5G high-speed data rates and Multimedia Messaging Services (MMS).
FIXED AND MOBILE TELECOMMUNICATIONS NETWORK
The latest Alcatel project in Nigeria (announced in February 2005) has involved the provision of a fixed and mobile telecommunications network and implementation, installation, and integration with the existing networks, alongside testing and commissioning.
Alcatel have provided multi-standard Evolium radio access and core network solutions as well as transmission solutions. The contract also included the deployment of a new Multi-Service IP (MSIP) network using data-aware optical technology, which has enabled Globacom to be the first company in Africa to provide triple play (voice, video and data) services.
Globacom will also later be able to offer voice and symmetric DSL services to a wider number of business and residential clients, as well as delivering new high-speed internet access and broadband multimedia services such as video-on-demand, video conferencing and broadcast TV. The services will be available initially in ten major cities. The network will meet the growing subscriber demand and facilitate migration towards next generation technology for future networks.
The network expansion is still being rolled out to outlying areas and as of early 2006 has covered over 25 towns in the first four weeks of the year. One of the latest additions to the network is Obudu Cattle Ranch, Nigeria's foremost natural tourist resort, along with the surrounding communities. The Glo Mobile network is also penetrating deeper into Benue State; it was rolled out in Oju, Anywuogbu, Ochimodi, Ega, and Ogengen.
In addition to Imo State, the towns of Nkwere and Ideato have now been switched on (February 2006). Also covered in this rapid rollout are Iju/Itaogbolu in Ondo State, Odekpe in Anambra, Keffi in Nassarawa, Itoikin in Lagos, Omu-Aran in Kwara, Uwana, Afikpo and Amezi in Ebonyi State. Other towns currently being covered are Owode-Yewa, Ago-Ilaro, Oke-Odan, Ilaro and Idiroko in Ogun State, Igbere in Abia, Igbetti, Pariya in Adamawa State and Ogboro in Oyo State.
The following state capitals, Gusau in Zamfara state, Damaturu in Yobe State, Birnin Kebbi in Kebbi state and Dutse in Jigawa, are also to come onto the Globacom network before the end of March 2006. With these cities joining the network, Glo will have effectively covered every state capital in the country.
Other towns in the north of the country expected to join the Globacom coverage map within this period include Potiskum, Hadejia, Gokana, Gumel Jalawa, Gashal and Shagari town. The Globacom network currently covers over 12,000 cities and towns across Nigeria along with their connecting roads. The plan in the first half of 2006 is to deploy 800 new cell sites.
It seems that Globacom is dedicated to providing the best coverage for any GSM network in Nigeria and is aiming to prove this to subscribers. The company is also currently wooing subscribers toward their network by giving away 180 Kia Picanto cars over 180 days to subscribers.
Alcatel are also aiding the deployment of the fixed line network for Globacom and are currently (March 2006) in the middle of deploying an 8,600 km submarine cable for Globacom, which will connect Nigeria to England and will significantly expand the country’s international connectivity.
Globacom will then be able to connect with the Americas via the UK, which will benefit the telecommunications industry and also help the industrial and commercial development of the economy.
Globacom has consistently been in the fore when it comes to providing subscribers with value services. It was the first Nigerian telecoms network to introduce the preferred per-second billing system (which other Nigerian mobile operators will not introduce until 2007), the multimedia messaging service, text-2-email, mobile Internet, Glo Direct, Magic Plus, N1SIM and free connection for post paid subscribers.