Telecoms: NCC Begins Transfer of Visafone’s License to MTN


The decision to transfer Nigeria’s hitherto only surviving CDMA operator, Visafone’s license to the country’s dominant and leading mobile operator, MTN, has finally been taken by the Nigerian Communications Commision (NCC). The commission has begun the process which would also include the transfer of Visafone’s frequencies to the new owner.

To this effect, as reported by the PUNCH, the NCC would be organizing a public forum which will involve interested stakeholders in Abuja next week Monday to approve the transfer of THE spectrum license (in the 800MHz band) held by Visafone to MTN.

Related Post: MTN, Huawei Target Rural Areas in Nigeria with Cheap Voice and Mobile Broadband Services

Recall that in 2016, MTN had announced that it had acquired 100 percent stake of Visafone, the only surviving Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), for about ($219 million) which NCC approved only to later issue a clarifying statement. The statement disclosed that the acquisition of shares did not include the transfer of the license and frequency to the mobile operator since Visafone only applied to the commission for an approval to change its shareholding structure by transferring 100 percent of its shares to MTN Nigeria.

What Prompted the Sale?

In recent years, there has been a drastic decline in the usage of CDMA’s as the big guys (GSM Operators) have taken over the telecom industry in Nigeria. Since then, CDMA operators have been experiencing hard times in maintaining their subscriber base and also expanding their existing number.

Related Post: NCC Withdraws 41m Telephone Numbers Assigned to CDMA Operators

While GSM now controls 99.7 per cent of the market share, CDMA, which seem non-existent in terms of infrastructure and physical presence, has 0.15 per cent of the market. And with the huge amount of money needed to run the CDMA business, it has been more of a sinkhole for Visafone.

What is in this for MTN?

Related Post: Analysis: Nigeria Now Has Over 160 Million Active Telephone Lines and GSM Service Providers Take the Highest Share

Should the transfer of Visafone’s spectrum license to MTN take effect, it would increase and stamp the market leader’s dominance by providing it with the robust voice and data platform (utilising Visafone’s 2×10MHz of 800MHz spectrum to roll out 4G LTE services) of Visafone and cater for its huge number of internet subscribers in Nigeria.

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