After 16 years of shutting down its operations, Intercellular has just staged a comeback as InterC Network. The company ‘re-incarnated’ as a 4G LTE data and VoIP provider.
Part of the radical change is that the company has moved away from the Code Division Multiple Access, CDMA to 4th Generation long term evolution network using the 800meghertz (MHz) band and in the 2.3gigahertz (GHz).
New owners have also come into the business. Telto Group has acquired 77% stake in the business. Huawei is the technology partner while IHS Towers is handling the collocation of infrastructure.
As part of its briefing at its launch, InterC Network will only be starting its operations in Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kaduna. Lagos and other key cities are to follow later on.
However, a closer look at its pricing and marketing strategy, shows the company might have more challenges to contend with in the nearest future.
First is its pricing. InterC Network is coming back at a time when the entire telecoms market are at ‘daggers drawn’ fighting a tough battle on who can charge the cheapest price in data services.
In the last two months, Glo has taken everyone in the category to the cleaners by crashing its data prices by more than 300%. The network now charges NGN5,000 for about 28 gigabyte with a 30 day validity period.
Apart from making the mobile telecom category run helter-skelter, the likes of Swift, Spectranet, nTel and many other players in the 4G LTE business are busy crashing their prices to meet Glo and remain in business.
Why should InterC be offering 7GB for N4,500 (24/7 30 Days Validity) when established brands such as Glo and Swift are offering close to 30 gigabytes for nearly the same price.
Also, the fact that InterC decided to choose Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kaduna as a launch market is worrisome for anyone interested in seeing the company succeed.
While the choice of the Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kaduna might sound very humbling and practical, it is still not wise to do so. The current economic condition in Nigeria has made Lagos the only viable economy and state in Nigeria.
The strategy of not starting in Lagos was experimented by Smile. However, the times have changed. Nigeria’s economy is on a reverse gear, no brand targeting the ‘working class and white-collar’ market will dare go to Ibadan for such unless the prices points are very low with specific target market in mind.
The earlier InterC gets realistic the better. Nigerians are facing the worst economic times in the last 20 years, an expensive data company would not stand a chance, especially when there ‘louder’ alternatives.
If interC has to get new customers, most of whom are already on other network and carriers, it will take more than a smart marketing campaign, alternation of market and a shortened name at that.