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Formerly known as Celtel Nigeria, the company was established in 2000, by a group of institutional and private investors as well as three state governments.
It made history on August 5, 2001 by becoming the first telecoms operator to launch commercial GSM services in Nigeria. In 2006, following Celtel International’s acquisition of majority stake in the company, it was re-branded Celtel and became an important part of Celtel’s pan-African operations spanning 14 countries.On August 1, 2008 Celtel Nigeria was rebranded Airtel Nigeria following the global acquisition of Celtel International by Airtel Group.
Airtel Nigeria, which currently covers over 1500 towns and 14000 communities across the six geopolitical zones of the country, scored a series of many other "firsts" in the highly competitive Nigerian telecommunications market including the first to introduce toll-free 24-hour customer care line-111; first to launch service in all the six geo-political zones in the country; first to introduce N500 recharge card; first to commence emergency service (Celtel 199); first to introduce monthly free SMS and first to introduce monthly airtime bonus.