London — Nigeria's FTTH provider Legend is making slow but steady progress in what remains a tough market because of the economy. Next year it will roll out in Lagos and Kano. Russell Southwood spoke to Bruce Ayonote, Founder and CEO, Legend about giving customers faster speeds and reaching a tipping point.
Legend is a Fibre-To-The-Home provider with its on video content bundle in Nigeria's capital Abuja. Since I last spoke to Legend in January 2017 it has gone from 1,500 to 2,200 subscribers (1,800 households; 400 corporate) and from 150,000 to 200,000 homes passed.
At the end of October it announced that it had doubled its speeds on its TriplePlay and Dual Play Bundles from 8Mbps and 4Mbps to 16Mbps and 8Mbps respectively. The increase is at no additional cost to the customers already on the service and to those joining the network. The offer does not apply to its corporate customers.
So why up the speeds at this moment?:"There are two reasons. Firstly, customers are consuming more video and secondly, there have been complaints about slow browsing speeds. It's not slow browsing speeds that are the problem but increased video use."
In the current market, it's been reasonably easy to do this because of intense competition:"We've been able to buy wholesale bandwidth reasonably cheaply. There are 5 international cables and there is a great deal of competition."
However, where there is still a bottleneck is between Lagos and Abuja:"Most of these cables are terrestrial except for MTN. The quality of the others is less good. Cables cut off (on this route) quite frequently and you pay more on MTN for quality and it's trusted much more. It has multiple self-healing rings and access to overhead cable (probably from Phase3) so we have a long-term agreement with MTN for considerable capacity on MTN's infrastructure."
Legend Double Play (TV and Internet) costs N23,300 (US$63.85) a month and its Triple Play (TV, Internet and Phone) offer costs N37,500 (US$97.84) a month. All the content is also available to subscribers over their mobiles. Top three uses are video, OTT calling and email:"The most popular content is kids channels and TV series. People really like the local stuff. We've got local movies like The Wedding Party and Rising Sun"
The Legend TV Bundle which comes with these packages has over 31 channels including: BBC World News, Bloomburg, Fox Sports, Aljazeera, Sky News, Fox Life, Fox News, Nickelodeon, Kiss, Trace Gospel, and FixFoxi (a kids channel from Legend).
So what's the potential over the next 18 months?:"We're seeing a major spike now as services are extremely stable. We've crossed that hurdle and we're now offering zero installation charges for the multi-channeling unit. We'll be at 15-20,000 households connected."
It's also continuing to add to the 60 or so Wi-Fi hotspots it has built which it charges for on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Apps use is free. The hotspots are in universities, public parks, cafes and seven are in tech hubs.
So who does it see as its competitors?:There are substantive services from the MNOs and companies like BCN and ipNX (in Lagos)." In Q1 2019 it wants to offers services outside Abuja and is currently deploying in Lagos and Kano. The company is financed from private equity and bank debt.
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