Nigeria’s historic 3.5GHz spectrum auctions that will pave way for rollout of 5G mobile services hold December 13, and the date remains unchanged, the telecoms regulator says.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) this week officially restated that the upcoming auction spectrum for the deployment of Fifth Generation mobile technology, otherwise called 5G, in the country, will follow the rules of the Information Memorandum (IM).
According to the auction’s IM presented by NCC at a stakeholder engagement forum organised in Lagos recently, the telecoms regulator is adopting Ascending Clock Auction format, which is software-based, while a mock auction has been slated for December 10, 2021, Dr Ikechukwu Adinde, NCC Public Affairs Director says in a post-event press statement made available to Technology Times.
How 5G Spectrum Auction Will Hold
The mock auction is a precursor to the actual auction slated for December 13, 2021, with the IM providing information, conditions, obligations, financial implication, timelines, and other necessary details on the planned 3.5Ghz spectrum auction.
“The IM also explains the rollout obligations of the would-be eventual winners of the spectrum licence auction, whose reserved price has been pegged at $197.4 million (N75 billion)”, NCC says.
The IM also states that only licensees, who make 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 while licensees with outstanding debts that have secured NCC’s approval for a payment plan will be allowed to participate in the auction.
According to the IM, the auction comes with a 10-year spectrum licence and a minimum requirement of an operational Universal Access Service Licence (UASL). However, new entrants or licensees without a UASL will be required to obtain a UASL operational license to be qualified for the 5G licence.
The eventual licensees will have a rollout obligation plan spanning a period of 10 years, beginning from the date of award of the licence. Between the first and second year of the licence, the operators are expected to rollout service in, at least, one state in each geo-political zone.
From the third to fifth year, they are obligated to cover all the zones. Between six to 10 years, they should cover all the states in the country, according to guidelines set out in the IM.
The Communications and Digital Economy Ministry has been working closely with the NCC to ensure that necessary spectrum resources needed for the deployment of 5G network in Nigeria to accelerate the nation’s digital economy space is made available, according to Professor Isa Pantami, the Minister who was represented at the event.
Pantami says the 3.5GHz is the most popular spectrum band used globally by regulators and operators for the deployment of 5G technology, and it seems the only band available in Nigeria for immediate use by operators.
Prof. Umar Danbatta, NCC’s Executive Vice Chairman of NCC says that various steps diligently taken by the regulator that culminated in the present status of the 5G deployment plan.
“Nigeria has an estimated population of 214 million, with an average growth rate of 2.6% annually. Approximately 76.46 per cent of the population is under the age of 35. In line with these demographic changes, internet penetration grew from 3 per cent in 2004 to 73.82 per cent as at September, 2021, and broadband penetration increased from less than 10 per cent in 2015 to 40.01 per cent in September, 2021”, Danbatta says.
While the global impact of Fourth Generation (4G) technology brought about increase in mobile usage and network performance, 5G technology will leverage on this momentum, bringing substantial network improvements, including higher connection speed, mobility and capacity, as well as low-latency capabilities, the telecoms regulatory chief says at the forum that was well-attended by industry stakeholders, including operators, industry associations and groups, advocacy bodies, and the media.
The Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), among others, called on the government to continue to make the operating environment more conducive for the existing and prospective licensees in the telecom ecosystem, in order to enable Nigeria to fully harness and harvest the derivable benefits of mobile technology in the country.
The stakeholder engagement forum was organized in keeping with the provisions of the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) 2003 and NCC’s tradition of consultative regulatory practice, Adinde says.