The release of fresh frequency spectrum for auctions will draw Nigeria closer to achieving set target of 30% broadband penetration by the year 2018, the nation’s telecoms regulator says.
Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), says the opening up of 38 GHz, 42 GHz and re-planning of 23 GHz microwave spectrum bands for use in Nigeria are proactive measures to address challenges of not achieving the set target of the government under the National Broadband Plan.
Danbatta said this in his keynote address at the Stakeholders Consultative Forum on the Licensing of 38 GHz, 42 GHz and Re-planning of 23 GHz band held at Sheraton Hotel in Lagos.
Represented by Mr Tony Ojobo, Director of Public Affairs at NCC, he says “the growth in the broadband traffic is on the increase and therefore additional spectrum resources would be required to avoid network challenges.”
Though the NCC boss says that radio spectrum in the 38 and 42 GHz bands are yet to be opened in Nigeria and the channeling plan for 23 GHz needs to be reviewed in line with international best practices to meet requirement for higher throughput.
However, he adds that, “at this moment, it is therefore paramount to take proactive measures to curb the impending challenges. The opening up of 38 and 42 GHz bands for use in Nigeria and the re-planning of the 23 GHz microwave spectrum band is one of such measures.”
While listing the achievements to be realised from the licensing of these bands, Danbatta believes that they will address the growing demands by operators for spectrum for high speed and high capacity links for data-centric services. It will also assist NCC to drive the National Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) initiative.
He further said the licensing will reduce pressure and management challenges experienced with the traditional microwave frequency bands.
Mr Oluwatoyin Asaju, Deputy Director, Spectrum Administration at NCC adds that opening of new spectrum band would boost access to high-speed Internet services for telecom consumers in Nigeria.
The regulatory moves were in line with international best practices and the NCC’s decision to accelerate the achievement of deepening broadband penetration, according to the telecoms regulator.
NCC says the licensing option would be in an administrative method of first come, first served of three categories: licence spectrum, light licensing and licence exempt.
While presenting the licensing proposals, NCC said the 38 GHz, after bench-marking with that of other countries already in use, will cost N43, 200 per uplink per annum, while the 42 GHz will cost N86, 400 per uplink per annum, and the 23 GHz will cost N72, 000 per uplink per annum.
The Commission said it has proposed 30th May 5, 2017, as the switch-over date to the new channel plan, which is represented as: ITU-R E637-4-12 (which is based on 28MHz channel spacing), as against the currently existing channel plan of ITU-R E637-2-4 (based on 7MHz channel spacing).
The regulator says that it has evaluated the number of vendors producing the equipment required for the switch-over by the operators and assured the operators that they have no need to fear as there are equipment available for the proposed change.
The equipment used by many operators are tunable to the new band plan, thereby reducing the switch-over cost for the operators, and that it will work together with operators to ensure that there is no frequency interference in tuning to the new plan, according to the telecoms industry watchdog.
NCC said the timeline for the licensing will be between three to six months, and will consider the requirements for the switch-over for operators before reassigning the operators, adding that it will monitor all operators to ensure that all who acquire license will roll out in due time.
While responding to question on the Commission’s role in speeding up the switch-over process, Ojobo said NCC has presently licensed two infracos, in Lagos and in the North central, and that there are five remaining to be licensed.
According to him, “the commission is finalizing the license document because that document is supposed to contain all of the terms and conditions required for rolling out of services by the infracos.”
“A committee is working on that in the commission. Very soon, they would come to sign for those licensed documents, and then they would begin to roll out services”, he noted.
Ojobo also revealed that the NCC wants to get the 2.6 GHz out of the way first, before looking into the licensing of the other five infracos, which he said is likely to happen before the end of this year.
The Stakeholders Consultative Forum on the Licensing of 38 GHz, 42 GHz and Re-planning of 23 GHz band was to provide avenue for stakeholders to make input in the planning of the licensing of the spectrum band.