MTN’s welcome message to Airtel’s 5G sparks reactions

By Abimbola Mohammed

MTN Nigeria has left Nigerians surprised with a message posted on its social media pages to welcome Airtel Nigeria to the 5G network gang. The message came on the day, 19 June, 2023, that Airtel Nigeria launched its 5G network at Eko Hotel and Suit, Victoria Island, Lagos.

The pictorial message, which was posted on the MTN Nigeria’s Instagram handle @mtnng, featured two hands with colours yellow and red, exchanging a handshake. The yellow colour hand was up while stretching toward the red hand.

The caption on the post read: “Yellow Airtel, we know it’s no small feat to join the 5G league. We’ve made everything easy for you, so welcome to the amazing world of 5G. To outdoing ourselves, MTN Nigeria.

“Congratulations @airtelnigeria, it feels good to have company at last! Welcome on board!”

While the congratulatory messages cut people by surprise from two competitive brands, there have been mixed reactions from people who believe that Airtel 5G will be better than what MTN is offering in terms of service, while others see the message as a “social media cruise”.

Some of the reactions on Instagram read: “MTN let the poor breathe” from @tofunmi

@justdebola wrote: “You guys are so petty! I love it.”

“This is a clear picturesque of light versus darkness. Airtel had better plan a classic comeback.” from@gazzytheplug_

@Ayodejioluwaseyi_ wrote in the comment session: “Airtel would do a better job, my MTN 5G and Airtel 4G are the same speed already.”

Nigeriacampusconnect wrote: “Was that a shade? I love this new love. Anticipating response from Airtel.

“@MTN is crushing on Airtel for so long. We remember what they both did during Valentine’s Day. MTN don find love.”

“MTN abeg let Airtel breathe you owe them that responsibility do not suffocate them” from @Iynnafresh.

@shamsbaba1 wrote: “Yen yen yen! Una bully every competitor that year come bully una customers join. Now Airtel is giving you a run for your money.”

It would be recalled that in December 2021, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) published a public notice on its decision to award two lots of 100 megahertz (MHz) Time Division Duplex (TDD) available in the 3.5 GHz band through an auction process to support the delivery of ubiquitous broadband services for the deployment of 5G network in Nigeria.

After 11 rounds of bidding on Monday 13th December, 2021, MTN Nigeria won the bid for the 3.5 gigahertz (GHz) 5G spectrum auctioned beating network provider, Airtel, the second license was awarded to Mafab Communications a subsidiary of Altani Group, incorporated to operate International Data Access Service.

Only the three network providers qualified for participation in the licensing process of 3.5Ghz spectrum, including payment of the stipulated Intention to Bid Deposit as outlined in the Information Memorandum.

Professor Umar Danbatta , NCC Executive Vice Chairman and Auction Overseer, announced the results of the auction exercise revealed MTN Nigeria and Mafab beat Airtel to the licenses after Airtel listed an exit bid of $270,000,000, while MTN posted an exit bid of $273,000,000, giving way to the Assignment Stage. At this point, Airtel had dropped off from the race having posted a lower exit bid, thus leaving Mafab and MTN as winners of the two available lots.

Airtel Nigeria, later got its 5G spectrum license early this year at the sum of   $316.7m, which is payable in local currency of  about N142.5 billion. The money was paid to NCC for 100 MHz of spectrum in the 3500MHz band for the deployment of fifth-generation network and 2x5MHz of 2600MHz to boost its fourth-generation coverage in the country.

According to Simon O’Hara, the Group Company Secretary, the acquisition of 5G spectrum will underpin Airtel’s growth strategy by enabling the launch of higher speed connectivity to enhance customer service and accelerate digitalisation for consumers, enterprises and the public sector. With this development, the smartphone network has reiterated its commitment to improve 5G access to both rural communities and public sectors.


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