CDMA is on the path to becoming obsolete soon as LTE and other technologies are making rapid headway into the African market. Consumers in Africa have exhibited high demand for faster mobile communication, which has created palpable demand for new technologies across the region.
In May 2015, Orange said that it would be moving all its subscribers in Kenya off CDMA and will be launching as many as five LTE networks in the African market this year. Currently, Orange runs LTE networks in Botswana and Mauritius. With the rapid advancements made by LTE and 3G, CDMA is struggling to compete. This has adversely impacted the quality of communications for consumers who are still on CDMA.
Recently, Telecom Namibia, too, pulled the shutters on all its CDMA sites after it had successfully move all of its customers to the LTE and HSPA+ networks which are decidedly faster. The company said that this move was prompted by the need to repurpose its spectrum so that it could offer new-age telecom essentials such as video services, mobile voice as well as data via a modern platform.
The very concept of CDMA is now waning with subscribers themselves flocking to more advanced networks. This can be seen in the rapid downslide in the subscriber base that many CDMA operators have reported. For instance, Expresso, the only CDMA operator in Ghana, said that it had 119,059 subscribers at the end of 2014. A month earlier, in November, this figure stood at 120,667. This dip was also attributed to the fact that Expresso, which is owned by Sudatel, faced the brunt of recent sanctions on Sudan, consequently affecting Sudatel’s recapitalization efforts and leading to services being affected. In Nigeria too, the number of CDMA subscribers has dropped at an alarming rate.
Market watchers second the trend that the usage of CDMA has been fast declining in Africa as well as around the world. In view of this change that’s brewing in the African telecom industry, telecom companies are now jostling to acquire spectrum based on which new services can be rolled out.