Airtel acquires additional spectrum to expand data services in Nigeria
Airtel Nigeria's revenue increased by 23 per cent in the six months' period ended 30th September, 2019, with data growth being the largest contributor.
Airtel Africa Plc – a subsidiary of Bharti Airtel – has announced the acquisition of additional spectrum in Nigeria to expand the telecommunication company’s Long-term Evolution (LTE) services across the country. LTE, sometimes referred to as 4G LTE, is a standard for wireless data transmission and achieving 4G connectivity.
According to a statement released today to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Airtel Africa said it has signed an agreement between its subsidiary, Airtel Networks Limited (Airtel Nigeria), and Intercellular Nigeria Limited, to acquire additional 10-megahertz (MHz) spectrum in the 900 MHZ band in Nigeria.
Airtel Africa said it will pay $70 million – excluding regulatory fees – for the additional spectrum. The decision to purchase more spectrum follows the growth of its data revenue in Nigeria, which is Airtel Africa's largest market. Airtel Nigeria's revenue increased by 23 per cent in the six months' period ended 30th September, 2019, with data growth being the largest contributor. Data revenue increased by 76 per cent during the period, driven by the accelerated rollout of the company’s 4G network.
According to the telecom company, average revenue per user (ARPU) grew by 43 per cent, as its data customer base increased by 20.8 per cent in the same period. Airtel said its 4G data usage increased by almost 20 times during the review period.
"Data is a key pillar of our growth strategy, driven by increasing 4G networks and supported by the increased affordability and increasing penetration of smartphones,” said Raghunath Mandava, CEO of Airtel Africa. “With an overall smartphone penetration of more than 35 per cent and data consumption growing by 92 per cent in the six months' period ended 30 September, 2019, Nigeria presents a significant growth opportunity in data.”
Operating across 14 African countries, Airtel Africa, whose primary listing is on the London Stock Exchange (LSE), debuted its cross-border listing on the NSE in July 2019. The company’s overall customer base reached the 100 million mark as of September this year.
The company said it has invested to expand its network footprint and the number of its 4G sites, to enhance network quality and experience. The spectrum acquisition is subject to regulatory approval by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
“The acquisition of this spectrum will enable us to further deliver on this growth opportunity and continue to offer our Nigerian customers an enhanced user experience," said Mandava.
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