The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has announced that three telecoms companies have qualified as approved bidders of the forthcoming 3.5 gigahertz (GHz) spectrum auction for the deployment of Fifth-generation (5G) networks in the country. According to the NCC, this is consistent with its regulatory principle of open and transparent auction.
According to a statement by the NCC, the announced qualified bidders have met the criteria for participation in the licensing process of 3.5Ghz spectrum. The criteria include the payment of the stipulated Intention to Bid Deposit (IBD) as outlined in the Information Memorandum (IM).
The named companies are MTN Nigeria Plc., Mafab Communications Limited and Airtel Networks Limited. Interestingly, two other telecommunications services providers in Nigeria, Globacomms and 9mobile are missing from the list. Mafab Communications was incorporated just about a year ago (8th of July, 2020).
The three qualified companies are now set to participate in the Main Auction as well as in the mandatory mock auction process of the NCC, which will come as a precursor to the Main Auction.
In the same vein, the NCC has announced the dates for the conduct of both the Mock Auction and the Main Auction. The Mock Auction is scheduled to hold on Friday, December 10, 2021, at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja by 11:00 a.m., while the Main Auction will hold on Monday, December 13, 2021, at the same venue.
All you need to know about the 5G spectrum
This is in line with the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Professor Umar Danbatta’s announcement that the commission is almost fully ready to deploy 5G network in the country in the coming year. The announcement of the auction date means all is set for rollout planned for 2022.
Recall that the NCC announced at a stakeholders engagement forum organised on the 5G spectrum in Lagos recently that the reserved price for the spectrum has been pegged at $197.4 million (N75 billion). Meanwhile, telecommunications operators in the country frowned at the government’s decision to peg the reserve bid price following the announcement.
According to them, the spectrum fees should be “as affordable as possible” so the country could maximize all the potentialities of 5G technology when rollout begins. The 5G licence is a 10-year spectrum licence. Meaning that companies that get the license will be required to hold it for a period of 10 years and subject to renewal at the expiration.
They are also required to roll out the 5G service within the first 2 years of receiving the license. According to the IM, “the operators are expected to roll out service in at least one state in each geo-political zone the first and second year of the licence”.
And, it requires a minimum requirement of an operational Universal Access Service Licence (UASL). This means that new entrants or licensees without a UASL will be required to obtain a UASL operational license to qualify for the 5G licence.
The NCC also stipulated in its IM that only companies who make a down payment of 10 per cent of the reserved bid price and with 100 per cent regulatory compliance would be allowed to participate in the auction. As an exception, companies with outstanding debts that have secured NCC’s approval for a payment plan will also be allowed to participate in the auction.
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