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Mobile CDMA Technology Finally Goes into Extinction as Mobile GSM, Fixed Wired, VoIP Technologies Take Centre Stage

The Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) technology, one of the oldest technologies deployed in the Nigerian telecom space, before the rollout of Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) in 2001, has completely gone into extinction, according to the recent statistics released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the telecom industry regulator.

The statistics showed the percentage of subscribers that are utilising telecommunication services per the various technologies/standards currently deployed in Nigeria, such as GSM, CDMA and Fixed Wired/Wireless technology, including Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

According to the statistics, as at August this year, the percentage of subscribers utilising CDMA technology, dropped to zero per cent, from 0.10 per cent in 2018, an indication that telecom operators are no longer deploying the CDMA technology across networks.

As at 2018, NCC released some figures, which suggested that CDMA, Fixed Wired and VoIP technologies were deployed at 0.10 per cent, but the recent figures released by NCC, explains that CDMA technology has gone under, while the Fixed Wired and VoIp technologies, still remain at 0.10 percentage level of deployment. The GSM technology, which was first deployed in 2001, is currently leading the Nigerian telecom market with 100 per cent deployment across networks.

While the former telecom operators, like Starcomms, Multilinks, Intercellular, Reltel, among others, deployed CDMA technology for their operations, and have all gone into extinction, the current GSM operators like MTN, Airtel, Globacom and 9mobile, deployed mobile GSM technology from the inception in 2001, and they have currently grown their market share to a large extent.

As at August 2022, MTN Nigeria for instance, had the largest market share of 37.98 per cent, with 79.6 million subscribers, followed by Globacom with a market share of 28.09 per cent and 58.9 million subscribers. Airtel, which is next to Globacom, had a market share of 27.85 per cent with 58.4 million subscribers, followed by 9mobile with a market share of 6.09 per cent and 12.8 million subscribers. Smile Communications plays in the VoIP space, while Spectranet and Swift Network play in the Fixed Wireless technology space.

As at August 2022, the total number of telecom subscribers utilising the mobile GSM technology, grew to 209.9 million, with a teledensity of 109.99 per cent.

Giving reasons for the disappearance of CDMA technology from the Nigerian telecom space, the Director, Public Affairs at NCC, Mr. Reuben Muoka, said the deployment of technology of choice, largely rest on the telecom operators and that NCC, as a technology neutral regulator, would make all the available technologies open to operators, but would not compel them against their choice of technology.

Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, however said the GSM technology remained the most widely accepted technology in the whole of Europe, Asia and Africa, because of its ease of deployment. According to him, prior to the rollout of GSM in 2001, NCC issued the Digital Mobile Licence (DML), which was the spectrum licence that covered the GSM technology, Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) technology and Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) technology.

“After NCC issued the DML licence, the operators were at liberty to choose the type of technology to roll out with the licence, since the DML licence was based on technology neutrality. The operators however opted for GSM technology, which has more wide-spread capacity in terms of coverage, than the CDMA and TDMA technologies,” Adebayo said.


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