Mafab Communications Limited and MTN Nigeria Plc, the two winners of the 5G licences in Nigeria, are now guaranteed spectrum assignment, subject to confirmation of their payments, the telecoms regulator says after receiving the 3.5GHz frequency from the Federal Government.
Professor Isa Pantami, Communications and Digital Economy Minister, who doubles as Chairman, National Frequency Management Council (NFMC), the custodian of Nigeria’s frequency assets presented the official document on the 3.5GHz spectrum allocation to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday in Abuja.
With the spectrum handover to the telecoms regulator, Professor Umar Danbatta, NCC Executive Vice Chairman says that “the coast is clear for the country to assign the specific reference in the spectrum to the winners, upon announcement of payments.”
The two winners, Mafab and MTN that staked $273.6m for each spectrum bouquet with the latter shelling out an additional $15.9m for its choice lot, have been given a February 24, 2022 deadline to pay their winning bid price by the auctioneer, NCC.
Recalling the diligence that attended the implementation of the 5G policy by the NCC since the process started in 2019, Danbatta recalls that Nigeria had taken proactive and meticulous steps to be among the leading players in the global digital economy on its journey towards the planned deployment of 5G service in the country.
“We have been meticulous all the way in our 5G deployment journey,” the NCC chief says, “from trial across selected states in the country, to review and stakeholder engagement, to approval by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), to the 3.5GHz spectrum auction, and up to the official launch of the national policy on 5G network by the President. Now we have the official allocation of the spectrum to the NCC for onward assignments to the winners.”
Yesterday’s formal handover of the 3.5GHz comes one week ahead of the February 24 deadline for the winning bidders to pay, while the 5G spectrum allocation document was received by Prof. Adeolu Akande, NCC Board of Commissioners Chairman, and Danbatta on behalf of the Nigerian telecoms regulator.
At the event, which also featured the public presentation of the National Policy on 5G Networks earlier launched by President Muhammadu Buhari on January 25, 2022, the Minister commended the NCC leadership for “a transparent, fair and credible 3.5GHz spectrum auction.”
Pantami says that the NFMC is responsible for managing the allocation of commercial and non-commercial spectrum resources in the country while the NCC is facilitating the deployment of spectrum in the country. Hence, the Council decided to allocate the assigned spectrum for 5G network to the NCC to enable the telecoms regulator to assign them to the winners of the 3.5GHz spectrum auction.
When deployed, 5G services will bring a lot of benefits and opportunities that will engender accelerated growth and smart living in Nigeria, Pantami says, noting that the technology will bring substantial network improvements, including higher connection speed, mobility, and capacity, as well as low-latency capabilities.