Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in its quest to boost the nation’s broadband, Quality of Service, (QoS), as well as enable operators provide advanced wireless services to cater for the growing need of telecommunication subscribers across the country has beckoned on local and foreign telecommunications investors to avail themselves of the opportunities in the 14 slots of 2.6GHz Spectrum licence auction.
It would be recalled that the commission had in 2015 suspended the auction of the 2.6GHz and 5.4GHz frequency bands, citing administrative constraints for the suspension. That was after the successful auction of the 2.3GHz spectrum.
Speaking with journalists at a media briefing in Lagos to shed more light on the auction procedures, the Director, Spectrum Administration, NCC, Engineer, Austin Nwaulune, said that the spectrum had been influenced by the need to open up the space for the delivery of true broadband services, which is in consonance with the objectives of the government’s National Broadband Plan (NBP).
The spectrum as stated in Information Memorandum (IM), he said is open to both existing and new entrants into the telecoms space; with 14 lots allotted for auction by the commission to intending bidders who must have followed the process and submitted all necessary documents on or before the submission deadline of April 28, 2016.
It is planned that a mock auction will begin on May 16, 2016 with the auction proper scheduled for the 17th through to the 19th of May, 2016 while publication of final winners will be done on June 13, 2016.
“The spectrum lots won by each bidder will be assigned on a nationwide basis covering all the states of the federation and the FCT. However, for the purpose of enforcing the ‘used it’ or ‘lose it’ clause, a license will be issued for each of the states of the federation as well as the FCT to each winning bidder. Each winner who does not currently hold a Unified Access Service License, (UASL), which is the operational license, will be issued one at an additional fee”, Nwaulune said.
Nwaulune stated further that the winning licensee shall be required after the operational license award to roll out services in at least two state capitals in each of the six geo-political zones, the remaining thirteen state capitals across the six geo-political zones, all these within a specified time frame and within six months from the award of license.
To avoid reoccurrence with regard to non-deployment of services on the spectrum after winning the licence, Nwaulune said that the winner will be given one year to rollout services.
He highlighted that “in the event of the winning licensee’s inability to deploy services as specified herein, the commission reserves the right to sanction the licensee based on relevant sections of existing regulations except for areas where Force Majeure is established. We have done it in such a way that in 8 years the whole nation would have been covered. This is also to ensure that we have broadband in all the cities in Nigeria”
The spectrum will be offered on technology neutral basis; but for rollout of telecommunications services, he added, is in accordance with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) recommendation.
He stated that 108 networks have been deployed on the 2.6GHz spectrum across the globe, stressing that countries including Ghana, UK, USA among others currently operate on it, “as such Nigeria cannot afford to be left out.”
He added that this spectrum has become important to Nigeria because it is large for the delivery of broadband and has sufficient capacity for both old and new players.
The Director, Spectrum Administration at NCC, said that the auction will take place from May 17 to 19th, 2016 in Abuja.