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5G Networks: NCC announces MTN, Mafab Communications winners of 2 slots in 3.5GHz Spectrum auction at $547.2m

L-R: Dr. Abimbola Alale, Managing Director, Nigerian Communications Satellite; Barr. Adeleke Adewolu, Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management at NCC; Ubale Maska, Executive Commissioner, Technical Services; Prof. Adeolu Akande, Chairman of Board of Commissioners; Prof. Isa Ali Pantami, Honourable Minister for Communications and Digital Economy; Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman/CEO of NCC; Prof. Millionaire Abowei, Commissioner at NCC; Clement Baiye, Commissioner at NCC; and Prof. Mohammed Ajiya, President of Digital Bridge Institute Photo: NCC

*The Nigerian Communications Commission has declared MTN Nigeria Plc and Mafab Communications Limited as winners of two slots of 100 Megahertz (MHz) TDD in the 3.5 GHz spectrum band at an auction process for the deployment of 5G technology and delivery of high-speed Broadband services to telecoms consumers

*The spectrum auction exercise was ‘efficient, fair, credible, well-organised and transparent, and was designed to deliver the ideal outcome,’ says Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman/CEO of NCC and Auction Overseer

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

Sequel to a successful exercise after 11 rounds of bidding that lasted eight hours, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said MTN Nigeria Plc and Mafab Communications Limited have emerged the two successful winners of the contested 3.5 Gigahertz (GHz) Spectrum auction conducted Monday, December 13, 2021, in Abuja, FCT.

ConsumerConnect reports the much-publicised spectrum auction event, which had a Web link for virtual participation of audiences across the world, was held in the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, in Abuja.

The exercise is considered a strategic process for the imminent deployment of Fifth Generation (5G) technology, to support the delivery of ubiquitous Broadband services to Nigerian telecoms consumers.

How 3 telecoms firms participated in mock auction

Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, Director of Public Affairs at NCC, Monday stated that the two winners emerged in “a keenly contested 3.5GHz Spectrum auction conducted by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.”

RELATED 5G Networks: NCC Conducts Successful 3.5 GHz Spectrum Mock Auction In Abuja

The telecoms regulatory Commission said three companies, namely MTN, Airtel and Mafab Communications Limited, earlier had qualified for the auction, having met the requirements stipulated in the Information Memorandum (IM) for the spectrum auction.

Subsequently, the three companies had participated in a mock auction held Friday, December 10, 2021, which served as a precursor to the Main Auction conducted Monday, December 13.

“In an exercise that clearly demonstrated demand outstripping supply, with Ascending Clock Auction System adopted by the Commission, the three bidders participated in the intensely competitive auction bid,” Dr. Adinde noted.

Highlights of 3.5GHz Spectrum auction exercise

According to NCC, in the first round of the auction, the bid price was fixed at $199,374,000.00; $201,367,740.00 at second Round; $204,388,356.10 at third round; $209,407,962.50 at fourth round, and $215,782,901.30 at the fifth round respectively.

Winners of two slots of 100 Megahertz (MHz) TDD in the 3.5 GHz spectrum band    Collage Photo: ThisDay

The Commission said that the auction prices, however, increased progressively to $224,414,217.43 at the sixth round; $231,146,643.96 at the seventh round; $240, 392,509.71 at the eighth round; $251, 210,172.65 at the ninth round; and $263,700,050.00 at the round 10 of the auction exercise.

READ ALSO 5G Tech: Updated AOL, Spectrum Pricing Regulations To Boost Telecoms Market, Enhance Competition ─NCC

It stated: “The auction process reached its peak at Round 11 when the bid price graduated to $275,904,886.25 with all the three bidders still actively participating.

“The Main Stage of the Auction, however, ended at the conclusion of the 11th Round, with Airtel listing an exit bid of $270,000,000, while MTN posted an exit bid of $273,000,000, giving way to the Assignment Stage.

“At this point, Airtel had dropped off from the race having posted a lower exit bid, thus leaving Mafab and MTN as winners of the two available lots.”

Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of NCC and Auction Overseer, who announced the results of the spectrum Auction exercise, recalled the processes and activities leading to the successful conduct of the auction in Abuja.

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Danbatta said the NCC published a public notice on its decision to award “two lots of 100 megahertz (MHz) Time Division Duplex (TDD) available in the 3.5 GHz band through an auction process” to support the delivery of ubiquitous broadband services for the deployment of 5G network in Nigeria.

The NCC EVC/CEO also stated: “Subsequently, an Information Memorandum was issued on November 10, 2021, in which Bid applications for the available spectrum lots were invited.

L-R: Prof. Akande, Engr. Ubale Maska and Barr. Adewolu Adeleke at Spectrum auction exercise in Abuja

“By the deadline for receipt of applications on November 29, 2021, the Commission received applications from three licensed telecoms companies, viz: Airtel Networks Limited, Mafab Communications Limited and MTN Communications Nigeria Limited.”

Danbatta confirmed that the auction held successfully Monday, December 13 at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, “with the three bidders competing for the available two slots.”

Format of spectrum auction process and price per slot of 100 MHz TDD

The Commission also stated that it adopted the Ascending Clock Auction format, which ended after Round 11 and proceeded to the Assignment Stage.

RELATED: 5G Deployment In Nigeria Is In Line With Global Innovation Curve ─Buhari

Danbatta said: “It is my pleasure to announce that at the end of the auction, Mafab Communications Limited and MTN Communications Nigeria Limited emerged as provisional licence winners.”

The NCC Chief and Auction Overseer, therefore, said that in view of the above, the winning bid price for the auction is $273,600,000 for each lot of 100 MHz TDD and the provisional winners are expected to pay the Winning Bid price, less the Intention-to-Bid Deposit, by February 24, 2022.

Danbatta also expressed satisfaction that the auction process was efficient, fair, credible, well-organised and transparent and was designed to deliver the ideal outcome.

Accordingly, the strongest bidders have emerged provisional winners, raising a substantial amount for the Federal Government, stated the EVC/CEO.

Commendations for Federal Government and auction winners

He, therefore, congratulated the winners, and thanked the Federal Government of Nigeria for its support and commitment to the deployment of 5G technology in the country.

Prof. Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman/CEO of NCC and Auction Overseer on the occasion

According to Danbatta, the 5G networks will bring substantial network improvements, including higher connection speed, mobility and capacity as well as low-latency capabilities to communications services in Nigeria.

Provisional winners take ‘Preferred Lots’ at Assignment Stage as contained in IM

Following the successful spectrum auction by the two winners, MTN Nigeria Plc and Mafab Communications Limited, Danbatta said in line with the processes outlined in the IM, the provisional winners had proceeded to the Assignment Stage.

He stated: “MTN Communications Nigeria Plc made an offer of $15,900,000 for the assignment of a preferred Lot, while Mafab Communications Limited made an offer of $11,120,000 for a preferred Lot.

READ ALSO: NCC Chief Highlights Benefits Of Digital Literacy In Socio-Economic Transformation

“Thence, MTN Communications Nigeria Plc, having made the highest offer was given the right to select its most preferred Lot, and it selected Lot 1 (3500-3600 MHz), while Lot 2 (3700-3800 MHz) is consequentially assigned to Mafab Communications Limited at no extra cost.”

Danbatta used the occasion to also thank all stakeholders, who have contributed to the success of the auction process.

The huge investment that will accrue from the sales of the spectrum band auctioned will result in increased transformation in life and businesses in the country, said he.

Government committed to activating Nigeria digital economy, says Pantami

Earlier, at the opening ceremony Monday, in Abuja, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami),  Honourable Minister for Communications and Digital Economy and Chief Host of the event, restated the Federal Government’s commitment to driving digital economy.

RELATED: How Nigeria Approves National Policy On 5G Networks For Digital Economy ─Minister

Prof. Pantami commended the Commission for its efforts at implementing the 5G Deployment Plan for the country.

The Minister also expressed optimism that the dawn of 5G networks in Nigeria would offer significant advantages over current technologies.

He said some of the benefits of the 5G technology for consumers include much lower latency, higher bandwidth, greater device density, longer battery life for nodes, and greater network flexibility for socio-economic transformation of the country.

A new era of wireless Broadband services is here ─NCC Board Chair

Prof. Adeolu Akande, Chairman of Board of Commissioners at NCC, on the occasion said that spectrum plays a strategic role in meeting the insatiable demand for advanced mobile data services as well as a new wave of wireless Broadband.

READ ALSO: NCC Board Chair Tasks Telecoms Operators On Fulfilling Licensing Obligations

Prof. Akande noted such advanced mobile data services include remote object manipulation, industrial automation, virtual and augmented reality, and next-generation connectivity for vehicles.

All these use cases will continue to increase the impact that mobile services have on societies and economies, he stated.

Akande also applauded the Minister for Communications and Digital Economy for his unflinching support, Board of Commissioners, the Management and Staff of NCC for the role they played in making the spectrum auction successful.

The NCC Board Chairman commended the 3.5 GHz Spectrum band bidders for believing in the Nigerian communications sector by their willingness to invest millions of Dollars in the sector for the provision of 5G services to telecoms consumers.

The Commission, he said, is committed to transparency and openness, which the auction represents.

In the same vein, Engr. Ubale Maska, Executive Commissioner Technical Services at NCC, who served as the auction adviser, was said to have shared Prof. Akande’s comments at the event.

Engr. Maska, delivering the Vote of Thanks after the event, conveyed the gratitude of the Commission to all stakeholders, giving special mention of the Auction Planning Committee, the media and staff of the foremost telecoms regulatory Commission in Nigeria.

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