NCC targets local, foreign firms in 2.6GHz spectrum auction
Commission says licensees have one year to roll out services or forfeit licence
Ahead of next month’s frequency spectrum auction in the 2.6GHz band, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said that it also expects foreign firms to participate in the auctioning processes.
While debunking claims that the commission wanted to use the auction, which is slated for May 16, to rake in money for the Federal Government, the telecoms regulator said the success of the exercise holds much more for Nigeria’s broadband penetration target.
Indeed, the successful auction of the 2.6GHz spectrum frequency is expected to fetch the Federal Government about N44 billion ($224 million) from the 14 slots that would be offered for auction.
Speaking at an interactive session with the media on the proposed ‘2.6GHz Licence Auction’ in Lagos yesterday, Director, Spectrum Administration at NCC, Austine Nwaulune, while making reference to the Information Memorandum (IM) on the auction, said applicants in the allocation process would not be required as a pre-qualification criterion to hold any telecommunications operational licence in Nigeria.
Nwaulune, however, said the bidder must fulfil some pre-qualification criteria, which include that the applicants must be a company registered in Nigeria with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC); applicants must be independent (10 per cent ownership interest test as defined in Section 6: 6.2 of the IM; applicants must transfer an Intention-to-Bid Deposit (IBD) for the amount described in the IM into the designated account in cleared funds. This deposit will bind the applicant to take up a license, should it be a successful bidder, at the reserve price or any higher bid value submitted during the process.
NCC also said that licensed operators participating in the process must fulfil all existing obligations to the commission, including payments of Annual Operating Levy (AOL); Spectrum and National Numbering Plan fees prior to pre-qualification.
Nwaulune, who claimed that the NCC was yet to check the number of companies, both local and international, that might have applied to bid, said the proposed licensing of 2.6 GHz spectrum has been influenced by the need to open up the space for the delivery of present and future generations of broadband services, especially wireless services to subscribers in consonance with the Nigerian National Broadband Plan of 2013.
On the importance of the 2.6GHz spectrum to Nigeria, Nwaulune said that about 108 networks across the globe have been rolled out on the frequency, stressing that countries, including Ghana, United Kingdom (UK), United States (U.S.), among others, currently operate on it and “as such, Nigeria cannot afford to be left out.”
He added that practically before now, so many operators in the country have been demanding for the release of more spectrum, saying that the auction would provide an opportunity for the service providers to roll out more services in the country on a larger scale.
“The license is not only open to existing operators, people and companies from other parts of the world can come and bid as far as they can comply with the rules. As of today, we have not checked if people or companies have applied or not. But we need to get the process moving. Companies that eventually participated and become winners have within one year to roll out services. The IM stated it clearly, ‘Use it or lose it’”, he stressed.
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