Mafab Communications, the newest member of the telecom industry and one of the owners of the three 5G licenses issued by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) plans to leverage existing infrastructure to roll out its service across the country.

According to the International Telecommunication Union, infrastructure sharing is an alternative that lowers the cost of network deployment, especially in rural areas or marginal markets.

“Sharing mobile infrastructure can also stimulate migration to new technologies and the deployment of mobile broadband. It can also enhance competition between mobile operators and service providers when safeguards are used to prevent anti-competitive practices,” the ITU noted. The NCC also has a guideline on co-location or infrastructure sharing.

In the case of Mafab Communications, which will operate under the Mcom brand, infrastructure sharing is not just an alternative, it is more of a survival strategy. A source told BusinessDay that the company was able to build 50 cell sites by January and aims to increase that to 100 by February before the launch which took place on January 24 in Abuja and on January 26 in Lagos.

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Despite the launch, Mafab says the service has yet to be commercialized. In other words, potential consumers would not yet be able to access the service. But Mafab Communication is looking to make a big impression when its service goes live in six cities: Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kaduna, Kano and Enugu.

Bayo Onibanjo, a spokesperson for Mafab, said the company will offer voice service to subscribers of the new network from day one alongside its 5G network. The company plans to be strategic in the markets where it deploys its service.

“We need to identify the markets we are going to go to and install base stations in those areas and continue to expand as traffic increases,” Onibanjo said.

Ajibola Olude, COO of the Association of Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ATCON), said that Mafab’s approach is in line with the principles of colocation in the Nigerian telecom industry.

“The whole essence of the placement is to facilitate market entry. The fact that it is using the existing infrastructure prompts the tower company to make more investments in expanding the telecom infrastructure and broadband penetration will also be positively affected,” Olude said.