This afternoon, I passed by Toyin street and I saw an old building formerly occupied by a big telecommunications giant called Starcomms now being occupied by a bank.

I began to reminisce about my last visit to that building and why that visit was essential then around 2004.

That year, I lived with my cousin and we had a multilinks dialup 56kbps internet connection at home which was gulping a lot of money despite how slow it was, we were ballers then.

I came to Toyin street because Starcomms just launched a 3g broadband cdma service which also doesn’t need a daily 70 naira access fee we paid to multilinks to use.

It was a lifesaver and the first push into a full pay as you go billing, meaning we won’t pay anything or have negative balance on days we’re not using it.

Starcomms’ business blossomed and they made awesome profits but after sometime they died, this post is about raising a glass for all the businesses and brands that brought us to where we are now, so many have died but if not for their tenacity, we might not be seeing the huge leaps GSM technology brought afterwards.

Below are some businesses that existed before the GSM and are no more either fully dead and buried or acquired by other companies.

Pioneer CDMA Operators in Nigeria

Multi-Links

Multi-Links Telecommunications Limited has been at the forefront of
the telecommunications revolution that has swept across Nigeria in the
last few years, having been the first PTO to be licensed in 1996. The
Unified license was awarded to Multi-Links in 2006 which permits
Multi-Links to provide the full range of telecommunications services
over a broad range of technologies. Telkom SA, the largest integrated
communications operator on the African continent, acquired 75 per cent
of Multi-Links Telecommunications Limited in May 2007, and purchased the
remaining 25 per cent in December 2008.

The company offers an exciting bouquet of superior telecommunication
services that encompasses the very best of voice, high speed data,
internet and other innovative value added services to individual
subscribers while also providing unequalled business solutions to both
corporate bodies and small & medium scale enterprises in Nigeria.

VGC Communications

Communications Infrastructure was a division of constructions giant,
H.F.P. Engineering Limited. The exchange provided services exclusively
to residents of the VGC, a model city on the outskirts of Lagos. Siemens
laid a full swing fibre optic cable from Nitel’s Saka Tinubu
interconnection point to the Victoria Garden City (VGC) on behalf of
Communications Infrastructure whose telephone exchange was located at
VGC, Ajah, near Lekki Peninsula. Its services were extended to the
environs including Ajah and part of the Lekki Pennisula phases I and II.
VGC Communication was later in 2007 acquired by MTN Nigeria for $65
million.

Intercellular

Intercellular Nigeria Ltd., founded by Mallam Bashir el-Rufai (Gov Nasir’s brother ) and
some key investors flagged-off the early telecom revolution with the
entrance of their fixed mobile telephony. It offers cellular and fixed
wireless telephone services. It also operates as an Internet service
provider. The company was founded in 1998 and is based in Lagos,
Nigeria. Intercellular Nigeria Ltd. operates as a subsidiary of Sudan
Telecommunication Co. Ltd.

Mobitel

Mobitel commenced operations in 1998 with a national license to
provide telecom services in the 2.0/2.2GHz band and a regional licence
to operate in Delta State Nigeria in the 3.5GHz band. Mobitel provided
both wireline and Wireless Local Loop (WLL) solution and was considered a
pioneer in the Nigerian market.

The company underwent a challenging period in 2005 following the
death of its CEO, and ultimately ceased operations in 2006 with a
subscriber base of nearly 20,000. Mobitel was acquired 100 per cent in
June 2008 by a new investor consortium led by Omni-Ventures Limited.
Mobitel was awarded 2.3GHz frequency for national coverage on the 22nd
of March 2010 after having won the license in a bid process that took
place in May 2009. Mobitel Nigeria runs high-speed broadband service
based on WiMAX technology.

The company’s initial roll-out plan was derailed by controversies
surrounding its acquisition of spectrum in the 2.3GHz band from the
Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). Having got its network
deployment plans back on track, Mobitel is keen to take advantage of the
huge supply gap in Nigeria’s high-speed internet market.

MTS First Wireless

MTS FirstWireless as the name rightly connotes, is the first
telephone company that was licensed to offer wireless service in the
country. It began the process of initiating Nigeria into the wireless
world in 1992 when the government issued it with a license to commence
the provision of national cellular service in the country. It was then a
joint venture between the government-owned NITEL and Digital
Communications Ltd. of Atlanta Georgia, USA. But a disagreement between
the two joint venture partners led to the abortion of this dream.

The issue was eventually resolved with a favourable settlement
brokered by the Nigeria Communications Commission which gave multiple
licenses to MTS First Wireless in 2002 as National Wireless Operator,
National long Distance Communications carrier, International data
Gateway Operator, and Internet Service Provider.

MTS First Wireless adopted a technology integration approach to its
service delivery, making it possible to deliver different services to
different markets using one integrated network of solutions. Its
technology is based on the CDMA20001X platform which is capable of both
fixed and portable toll-quality voice telephony, and high speed data
(144kbps), non dial-up Internet Access and other value-added services
like voice mail Fax, call conferencing and SMS amongst others. The
technology ensures that all of MTS netwoks of Wireless Telephony, Long
Distance Carrier, International Data Access and Internet Services
provider operate seamlessly at optimum.

ITN

Independent Telephone Network Limited (ITN) started operation in 1998
with a network capacity for 10,000 subscribers to cover the Ikeja
market. ITN was promoted by Chief Adebayo Akande and other investors.
ITN and Cell Communications Nigeria Ltd (Cellcom) were later acquired
alongside Bourdex Telecom by Visafone Nigeria in 2006.

Thank you for being there for us despite loosing your funds and businesses in the process.