NCC Slates December 13 To Auction 5G Spectrum

…Eventual Licensees Get 10 Years Rollout Plan

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has slated December 13, 2021 for the auction of the 3.5 Gigahertz (3.5 GHz) spectrum for the deployment of Fifth Generation (5G) technology in Nigeria.

The declaration was made the commission through the Information Memorandum (IM) at a stakeholder engagement forum organised on 5G spectrum recently in Lagos.

NCC said it is adopting Ascending Clock Auction format, which is software-based while a mock auction has been slated for December 10, 2021, as a precursor to the actual auction on December 13, 2021.

The IM further 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.

It also states that 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 statement said those who emerge as the licensees will have a 10 years plan from the date of award, which requires them to rollout the service in at least one state in each of the six geopolitical zones. From the third to fifth year, they are expected to cover Al the geopolitical zones and the 36 states and FCT between six to ten years of award of license.

Represented by a Director who is also the Secretary, National Frequency Management Council (NFMC), Abubakar Ladan, said 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.

In his address, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, speaks on how profitable investment in 5G deployment will be for potential operators and investors in the country.

According to him, “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.”

He said 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 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.

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