According to an anonymous tipster, word reaching our desks indicates that Smile Communications Uganda is financially indebted to network equipment vendor Alcatel-Lucent that currently manages its network– and before the end of Q1 this year–the two will part ways. The highly praised 4G-LTE operator is allegedly having a rough time since it hasn’t cleared its arrears for over 3 years and the network management will now be taken over by Ericsson.
This is a surprising revelation given the expansion and marketing drives that Smile Communications has undertaken the previous year. Sources further reveal that the new contract with Swedish vendor Ericsson is to manage its 4G network and one of the clauses on the agreed terms indicates that the two are bound by only a six months long contract since Smile reportedly has an outstanding balance with Alcatel-Lucent. It’s clear that the Swedish vendor is taking precautions in order not to be dragged in the same mess Alcatel is facing hence the call for a six months short contract.
Our sources at Smile Communications Uganda have confirmed the allegations that that Ericsson will reportedly only take over the managed services section, but the network equipment will still be managed by Alcatel-Lucent. They further reveal that the decision for the two to part ways was due to several issues, which include disagreements, multiple network downtimes which led to a change in network managed services. Ericsson also manages all Smile Communication’s operations in Nigeria.