Two telecommunication firms have invested N468.96bn in expanding the nation’s broadband infrastructure in the first nine months of the year.
The telcos, MTN Nigeria and Airtel, spent the amount on expanding their 4G and 5G reach. This meant a 33.93 per cent increase from what they spent in the corresponding period of 2021.
In its financial report for the period, MTN revealed that it deployed 8230 4G sites and 218 5G sites with the period under review.
It said, “Capital expenditure in the period was N379bn, up by 45.2 per cent, due to accelerated coverage expansion focusing on the 4G and 5G networks and our rural telephony program.
“Core capex, excluding the right-of-use assets, increased by 51.3 per cent to N251.8bn, on track with our expected full-year capital expenditure of N340bn. We deployed 8230 4G sites and 218 5G sites, representing 84.4 percent of sites deployed during the period.
“These investments enabled us to capture growth opportunities in the data, digital, and fintech space while mitigating foreign exchange and supply chain disruption risks and the impact of rising inflation. In doing so, we remain efficient with capital allocation, bringing capex intensity within target levels at 17.3 per cent, while free cash flow was up by 7.5 per cent to N401.6bn.”
Airtel added, “The enhanced 4G network and ample data network capacity to provide high speed data has helped us to grow data customer base.
“As we continued our 4G network rollout, nearly all our sites in Nigeria (99 percent) now deliver 4G. The 4G data customer base increased by 20.3 per cent with 45 per cent of our total data customer base being 4G users, compared with 42.4 per cent in prior period.”
In the period under review, broadband subscriptions increased by 8.02 million, with broadband penetration increasing by 4.21 percentage points according to the Nigerian Communications Communication. Also, the number of subscribers accessing the Internet through their phones increased from 141.62 million to 152.79 million.
The continued rollout of broadband services in the nation was estimated to help grow the nation’s economy and increase financial inclusion. Recently, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta, disclosed that financial inclusion is dependent on broadband availability.
To achieve a further increase in broadband access in the country, the NCC recently inaugurated a committee to oversee an N800bn broadband expansion project named National Communications Backbone.
Speaking on the increasing investment in broadband infrastructure, the Chief Operating Officer, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, Ajibola Olude, had in an earlier interview with The PUNCH said, “Policy is driving this increase. That is policy from the government and the regulator.