Professor Umaru Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), says he is ready to flag off the much-anticipated auctions of 2.6GHz frequency spectrum for broadband service, amid previous postponements by the nation’s telecoms watchdog.
[quote font=”georgia” font_size=”22″ font_style=”italic” align=”left” bgcolor=”#” color=”#” bcolor=”#” arrow=”yes”]Prior to the latest shift, the auctions rules released by NCC stipulates a reserve price of N3,184,800,000.00 ($16,000,000) per slot for the 14 available licences to enable winners provide broadband services across the country.[/quote]Anticipation has been reignited by Danbatta’s assurance, albeit with cautious optimism, among industry watchers on government’s sale of the frequency spectrum hoped to let operators deliver new telecoms services.
NCC has twice suspended the sale of the 2.6GHz frequency, first in 2014, and then last year, though the telecoms regulatory agency had assured that the popular broadband frequency spectrum will be transparently sold.
The latest assurance by the nation’s telecoms regulatory chief issued on NCC website and titled, ‘Resumption of 2.6GHz Frequency Spectrum Auction’ did not give much information other than to say that ‘further details’ will be made public ‘in due course’ by the telecoms watchdog that also doubles as frequency spectrum sales midwife.
“The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria, hereby informs parties interested in participating in the Auction of Frequency Spectrum Licences in the 2.6 GHz band that the process of the Auction has resumed”, according to the notice signed by NCC’s Danbatta.
Last year, NCC had offered 14 licences at N130.5 billion in the fresh 2.6GHz spectrum auctions that was planned to hold May 5-8 in Abuja.
Prior to the latest shift, the auctions rules released by NCC stipulates a reserve price of N3,184,800,000.00 ($16,000,000) per slot for the 14 available licences to enable winners provide broadband services across the country.
The available slots of 14 licences totaling N130,576,800,000 will be enable the winners to offer broadband services across the country, under a government plan to offer impetus to diffusion of high-speed Internet services in Nigeria, NCC has said at the time.
The telecoms watchdog had earlier released the Information Memorandum detailing rules for the postponed 2.6Ghz spectrum auctions a while back to resume the process suspended in November 2014 over what the agency cites as “administrative” issues.
According to the Information Memorandum released by NCC, “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 to subscribers in consonance with the Nigerian National Broadband Plan of 2013.”
NCC, which says it decided to auction the “entire 2 X 70 MHz slot available in the 2.6 GHz band to support the delivery of broadband wireless services nationally” is also assuring investors of market potentials for their stakes in the communications industry.
It adds that, “Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa with a population of about 173.6 million people as at 2013 according to the World Bank. The population has grown at a rate of 2.3% for each year from 2000 to 2013. Approximately 60% of the population is under the age of 20.”
Today, Nigeria, which is home to over 125 million active mobile phone connections is calling on stakeholders to explore stakes in the Internet market, where subscription is lower than voice and hence opens market opportunities.
“In line with these demographic changes internet penetration has increased from less than 0.1% in 2001 to about 54% in December 2014. The 2012 National ICT policy placed broadband Internet penetration for both mobile and fixed broadband at about 6.1%. Given key demographic and economic developments throughout the country, and in particular the subsequent potential scale and growth of Internet penetration in Nigeria, the next phase of expansion in the telecommunications sector provides a number of major opportunities for telecommunications operators, subscribers and the economy in general”, according to NCC.