CDMA merger happening soon?

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Here on Mobility, we have reported speculations on mergers and acquisitions deals in the CDMA telecoms sector. Operators mentioned at various times have included Multilinks, Starcomms, Visafone and MTS First Wireless.

Perhaps there is some truth to the speculation of the Starcomms-Multilinks-MTS deal. According to CyberSchuulNews, “a merger of 3 CDMA operators and which surrounds the interest of Helios may be real if hints gathered on such a development are anything to go by.”

It is no secret that CDMA operators have hit bad times in recent years. Their subscriber base continues to deplete, and a number of them (including MTS First Wireless and ZOOMmobile) are off the radar already. Those still in operation are struggling badly to stay afloat. The story is that ATCON, the umbrella association of telecoms companies in Nigeria is not favouring the bailout option for distressed telcos. The merger seems the only way to go.

Industry watchers are however worried at the prospects of distressed companies merging. “It doesn’t make sense,” said one watcher who spoke under anonymity. We sort of agree too, unless some other measures will be implemented to change the direction that all three are headed. Insiders say that the merger may see new investors stepping in.

We also are of the opinion that a change of strategy is highly needed for CDMA operators to gain a footing. The flexibility of GSM mobile technology in terms of SIM and device acquisition will continue to give CDMA operators a headache. However, perhaps the data capabilities of CDMA technology needs to be turned into a unique selling point. Perhaps it is time that CDMA operators focus on and push internet services as their core services instead of voice.

Here at Mobility, we wish them success in their plans to turn things around. We would hate to see hundreds of direct jobs and thousands of indirect jobs go down the drain in an already stressed economy.


  1. If they’d just let some of us with compatible devices from abroad (verizon, sprint) register on their network, I personally would switch.Multilinks/Starcomms and Glo/Mtn would be nirvana.

  2. It’s a global competition between GSM and CDMA
    GSM is more widespread worldwide, CDMA is popular in North America and Asia but it
    is not popular in Africa generally. Though newer CDMA networks and phones allow CSIMs (equivalent of SIMs in GSM), those in Nigeria don’t offer that as far as i know so it’s difficult changing phones while retaining your number, you’ll have to take it back to the telco. There are few options as far as the hansets are concerned in Nigeria, mostly cheap sub 5k phones. Both technologies can be used with 3G standard phones, but 3G GSM speeds can be faster than 3G CDMA speeds. **The fastest 3G standard used with CDMA2000 is EV-DO Rev B., which has downstream data rates of about 15.67 Megabits per second (Mbit/s). The fastest standard available with UMTS is HSPA+, with downstream speeds of up to 28 Mbit/s.** (info from
    so except CDMA telcos in Nigeria upgrade to the latest equipment and offer CSIMs with a variety of modern handsets, I’m afraid they won’t experience heavy patronage from Nigerians.

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