Intercellular Is Back And With What It takes To Make All Players In The Industry Worry!
On June 30, 2014, Nigeria’s leading national daily, Punch proclaimed the death of fixed telephony in the country in a news headline that read: “Starcomms, Intercellular, others face extinction.”
Quoting stats from the Nigerian Communications Commission, the newspaper had speculated that “fixed telephony may be wiped out from the telecommunications landscape of the country as fixed telecommunications operators lost more than 56 per cent of their active lines in the past one year.”
But while Punch may have been right in arriving at its conclusions, especially with the way the GSM people were wiping out their competitors in the fixed and fixed wireless arena, developments in the industry may be pointing to a resurgence that will very likely revolutionise the entire telecom landscape and, more critically, put the four titans of MTN, Airtel, Etisalat and Glo, on the toes.
The news is that Intercellular, the fixed and fixed-wireless operator that was one of the early victims of the GSM revolution in the country, is about to return.
Most would dismiss this as just another wild goose chase by investors who do not know their “telecom onions” but available information clearly suggest the “onion” may eventually as defined by this network that is making its return with a war-chest that could shake even the biggest.
Malam Bashier el_Rufai, founder of Intercellular had his last real public outing as Chairman of the company more than a year ago on in March 24, 2014 but it appears that so much have been happening behind the scenes and may lead up to what promises to be stern competition in the Nigerian telephony and telecommunications landscape.
El-Rufai, having struggled without success, to breathe life into a brand that was once the nation’s number one, has reportedly followed the wise counsel of selling the company. Reports indicate that a Jordanian billionaire is the next owner of the company in a deal said to be worth N15billion.
This is quite a tidy sum for a company with little or no hopes of full and proper recovery. The market has moved on since the fixed wireless guys lost their voices to the loud drums of the GSM operators who have effectively taken over the voice, data and associated lifestyle businesses.
But as Malam el-Rufai smiles to the bank, following what looks like a good deal, the Nigerian market is set to be treated to a new (good) deal in telecommunications services by the new owners of Intercellular.
It has been learnt that the Jordanians investors in Intercellular will bring to the market, a new form of telephony system that play heavily on the VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) platform, a channel that will not only be cheaper but will also connect to the new playground of young people in Nigeria – the internet.
Bashar el-Rufai, Chairman, Intercellular Nigeria
According to sources, the investors have taken critical looks at the Nigerian telecom industry and seem to have seen gaps like drop calls, frustrations in data services among others and are determined to invade the market with best-in-the-world VOIP infrastructure and interface that will draw millions of young people.
To reach this critical mass, a campaign budget of over N2billion has already been set aside, it was also learnt and the core target are the young people who spend the most time on calls and data.
The new investors are banking on the expectation that the new internet call experience the VOIP will provide will provide a magic carpet for quick uptake of its products in a market where loyalty is practically non-existent.
Intercellular appears to have been a lot busier cooking its deals behind the scenes than engaging its publics. A visit to the brand’s website suggested little or no activity since the March 2014 extraordinary general meeting of the company.
Even Google seem to have slowly begun to forget the brand. Searches yielded few activities in 2014 and 2006. In fact, the only real message on the website is a promise that “The chairman’s message will concentrate on our values, mission and vision and how the company will prepare itself to positively compete in and participate in the development of the Nigerian telecommunication market.”
No one knows when this entry was made on the site. But somewhere in the huge hallways of Insight Communications, discussions and strategy sessions are ongoing on the best way to make Intercellular win once and stay the winner.
With a N2billion take-off marketing communications war-chest, and Insight Communications on the bandstand, even the deaf may just hear Intercellular’s future drum-rolls.