The two companies were winners of the 3.5 gigahertz (GHz) spectrum auction conducted by the Commission on Monday, December 13, 2021.
A statement from the NCC disclosed that management of the Commission led by its Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, confirmed this to the Board of Commissioners at a ‘Special board meeting.’
In line with the terms and conditions of the 5G licence, the licensees are expected to commence the rollout of 5G services, effective from August 24, 2022.
The Commission published a Public Notice on its decision to award two lots of 100MHz Time Division Duplex (TDD) available in the 3.5 GHz band through an auction process, to support the delivery of ubiquitous broadband services for the deployment of 5G technology in Nigeria.
Subsequently, an Information Memorandum (IM) was issued on November 10, 2021, in which Bid Applications for the available spectrum lots were invited. By the deadline for receipt of applications on November 29, 2021, the Commission received applications from three licensed telecommunications companies, namely: Airtel Networks Limited, Mafab Communications Limited, and MTN Communications Nigeria Plc.
The Auction was held successfully on Monday, December 13, 2021, at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja with the three bidders competing for the available two lots in which the Commission adopted the Ascending Clock Auction format that ended after Round 11, and proceeded to the Assignment Stage.
In the auction, MTN and Mafab emerged provisional licence winners and arising from this, the winning bid price for the auction was put at $273.6 million for each lot of 100 MHz TDD. The Provisional licence winners were then directed to pay the Winning Bid Price less the Intention-to-Bid Deposit, by February 24, 2022.
The telecoms regulator said the 5G network, when deployed, will bring a lot of benefits and opportunities that will engender accelerated growth and smart living in the country. The NCC in its statement said: “The technology is also expected to bring substantial network improvements, including higher connection speed, mobility, and capacity, as well as low-latency capabilities.”
“The Commission is optimistic that effective implementation of the National Policy on 5G will accelerate the actualisation of the national targets in the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025, the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030, as well as other sectoral policies designed to enhance Nigeria’s digital transformation,” it added.
With the issuance of the final letters of award of the 5G spectrum and in line with the 5G auction’s Information Memorandum (IM), the two licensees are now expected to accelerate the deployment of 5G network that will usher Nigeria into a more robust Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and a more digitised Nigerian economy among the comity of nations.
Following a transparent, diligent, fair and credible auction of 3.5GHz on December 13, 2021, the National Frequency Management Council (NFMC), chaired by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, had, on February 22, 2022, officially handed over the spectrum allocation for 5G deployment as well as Federal Government-approved National Policy on 5G to the Commission.
Subsequently, the Commission, on February 24, 2022, confirmed the full payment of $273.6 million each by the two spectrum winners, in addition to the spectrum assignment fee paid by MTN, for the 5G spectrum licence.