I just read on Innovation Village, that Ntel made its first voice over LTE call at 3:30pm yesterday, February 25, 2016. They made the call from their new Tier III data centre in Lagos Island, with help from SONY and Ericsson. Incase you’re wondering, a Tier III data centre is one that is available 99.98% of the time. They allow you manage maintenance periods without affecting the continuity of the service to the servers (at least that’s what I read off Google a few seconds ago).
It seems a lot like there’s a push towards OTT services across the board. The more plugged-in among you will remember that only a week ago, Smile Communications unveiled their own VoLTE offering called SmileVoice, and it won’t be long before Spectranet and the other traditional telcos launch their own versions of the service. NATCOM has already said that Ntel will now begin to push for both local mobile operators and international partners to perform cross-network VoLTE calls.
“This is confirmation that the key network elements are now in place to support the full commercial launch of premium integrated voice, video and data services over 4G/LTE.” said Kamar Abass, Ntel CEO, “the Ntel network is built on the 900/1800 Mhz which are the most efficient propagation frequencies for the deployment of 4G/LTE technology.”
There’s been more than a little skepticism in the air since the Nigerian government handed over NITEL/Mtel assets to NATCOM in a deal worth $252 million last year. Before the NITEL/Mtel combo was eventually sold to NATCOM, there had been many attempts to either resurrect or offload the telecom operator. Deals with Omen International, Investor International London and the New Generation Consortium (led by China Unicom) all fell through for a variety of reasons.
No one has said exactly when Ntel will launch officially, but so far, things seem to be looking up for the embryo carrier. We’ll find out after their launch whether they will deliver more value than the incumbents: MTN, Glo, Etisalat and Airtel. If they can’t manage to out-deliver the other telcos, then they won’t have much going for them. Well, except maybe Ben Murray Bruce’s #BuyNaijaToGrowTheNaira campaign, since they’ve said they plan to employ 10,000 Nigerians.
As always, fingers crossed.