There is a new entrant into the Nigerian telecom space and they are called ntel. It sounds a bit familiar right? Well add the letter I and you have NITEL (Nigerian Telecommunication) which used to be the national carrier until its demise some years ago. This company has asked the public especially Lagos and Abuja to start reserving its 0804 number. The first set of commercial services are set to begin on the 8th of April. The CEO of the new company Kamar Abass added that they had acquired some of the NITEL base stations with an agreement with IHS and Helios Towers to build 600 plus stations for a smooth rollout in Lagos and Abuja.
This company isn’t wasting time at all when it comes to the much desired 4G service as well. In a report we published last month, we noted that Nigeria currently had only two 4G/LTE providers to service its huge telecom subscriber base which is the biggest in Africa. Mr. Abass says the new company which plans to invest over a $1b over the next four years to expand aggressively into other parts of Nigeria will deploy state of the art equipment to make its VoLTE (Voice over LTE) a reality. “We are rolling out physical sites in three cities on our 900MHz and 1800MHz bands to launch Voice over LTE come April 8, 2016. We have signed agreements with trade partners and fulfilled all licence authorisations and payments and we are up-to-date and there are no impediments to our launch,” and this comes as he revealed that Natcoms Investments Limited which is the parent company of ntel had already set up about 200Km of metro fibre optic cables in three Nigerian cities namely Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.
Why the emphasis on VoLTE and the LTE there stands for Long Term Evolution and for the sake of this article, let’s just say 4G which stands for fourth generation networks. The explanation below obtained from IT Tool Box will explain to you that VoLTE is an improved version of what we are used simply because your voice data is given special priority on the web and that eventually means better service quality. Please refer to the above diagram for better understanding of the differences between VoIP (voice over internet protocol such as Skype, Viber and WhatsApp) and VoLTE. The OTT (Over the Top) in the diagram above refers to services delivered through IP networks of Telecommunication companies otherwise referred to as Telcos. Again Skype and other applications are classic examples of this.
Today, when we use a VoIP application, the packets (the actual voice digitized to data) are sent over the Internet from the sender to the receiver. The issue here is that that packet, when sent over the public Internet, is treated like any other type of data packet, such as web traffic or video streaming. When it’s sent over the public Internet, it’s treated as a best effort, meaning that your voice packet doesn’t have any special priority over any other packet, which can affect the quality of your call. This is where the major difference between VoIP and VoLTE becomes clear.
In a VoLTE network, packets are given special priority. They have a quality of service capability built into them that results in much higher-quality phone calls. Many people are reporting that when VoLTE becomes ubiquitous, the call quality will be nothing like what we have experienced in the past and will set a new bar for voice calls. A VoLTE network offers a number of benefits:
- VoLTE calls have been measured and greatly exceed the quality of existing 3G and 4G voice calls. They have even been rated as having a higher quality than high-definition Skype calls.
- Over a congested or loaded VoLTE network, call quality has been rated higher that other web applications, such as Skype.
- The amount of time required to initialize a VoLTE call was measured as twice as fast as a typical 3G call.
- A VoLTE call uses fewer resources on both a handset and over the network, resulting in longer battery life for the end user and a more efficient network for the mobile operator.
Lastly as explained in of our articles, sometimes it’s not the availability of these services that is the problem, billing or cost of these services play a major role. Spectranet (a “leading 4G” service company) for example has recently increased the cost of its services across the board. While there is demand, penetration levels are still low due to the cost. But who knows, with the coming of the new company (ntel) LTE services may come at a more affordable cost.