NCC rules out MTN in second 5G spectrum auction

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The Nigerian Communications Commission has ruled out MTN Nigeria from participating in the second auction of spectrum for the deployment of 5G across the country.

Uba Group

The Point gathered that the NCC ruled out licensees that have up to 200MHz in the 3.5GHz band in Nigeria in the final Information Memorandum on 3.5 GHz spectrum auction published on Friday.

The final Information Memorandum will guide the upcoming auction of the remaining lots of the 3.5 GHz spectrum for the deployment of 5G services in Nigeria.

Earlier, the Commission had published the draft of the Information Memorandum and requested stakeholders to make comments and inputs into the document to enrich its contents.

Subsequently, stakeholders’ comments were collated and discussed at a Stakeholder’s Engagement forum hosted by NCC on November 15, 2022 at Marriott Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos.

MTN had argued that the second 5G spectrum auction be open for all to participate, including network operators that won 5G licences in the last auction.

However, the final Information Memorandum published by NCC shows that any licensee of the Commission or any entity with up to 200MHz in the 3.5GHz band in Nigeria will not be eligible to participate in the second auction.

This means that Mafab Communications is also not eligible to participate in this second auction of 5G spectrum.

The Point recalls that the NCC held the first 5G auction in December 2021 with MTN and Mafab dislodging Airtel Nigeria to emerge winners in 11 rounds of bidding that lasted eight hours.

According to the Information Memorandum for the second 5G auction, the Commission will not reserve Spectrum for any group or entity, stressing that reservation is considered as discriminatory and capable of creating an uneven playing field.

Barring any last-minute changes, the second 5G spectrum auction will hold today, December 19, 2022 at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.

Airtel that lost in the first 5G spectrum auction; Glo, 9mobile and other smaller network operators are expected to participate in this second auction.

However, to qualify to bid in the auction, an applicant does not have to be a licensed network operator in Nigeria.

Any successful bidder without a Unified Access Service Licence (UASL) will be issued one and is expected to pay the specified licence fee in addition to the auction winning bid price.

The tenure for the UASL will be 10 years, subject to renewal, according to the Information Memorandum.

The Point learnt the reserve price for the auction, being the minimum price for one lot of 100MHz TDD for 10-year licence tenure, has been fixed at $273.6 million or its equivalent in Naira at the prevailing Central Bank of Nigeria rates at the time of the auction.

Meanwhile, the fee for the 10 year spectrum licence will be determined at the auction. The opening bid will be an increment higher than the reserve price in the opening round of the auction.

A successful bidder at the auction will be expected to pay a sum equal to the amount of the winning bid minus the IBD, as well as an operational Licence fee (where applicable).

“CBN"

An applicant must not have a relationship with another applicant. A relationship is defined as a situation where an applicant has a direct or indirect ownership stake of 10% or more in another applicant.

Licensed operators participating in the process must be in Good Regulatory Standing with the NCC.