MTN, Mafab pay for 3.5GHz Spectrum licences for 5G deployment ─NCC

*The Nigerian Communications Commission confirms the two provisional winners of the 3.5 Gigahertz (GHz) spectrum licences have made their full payment of $273.6million each for the 5G Spectrum licences to support the delivery of ubiquitous Broadband services for the deployment of 5G technology in the West African country

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said the provisional winners of the 3.5 Gigahertz (GHz) spectrum licences, MTN Communications Nigeria Plc and Mafab Communications Limited, have made their full payment of $273.6million each for the 5G Spectrum licences in preparation for the deployment of 5G networks in the country.

ConsumerConnect reports Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, Director of Public Affairs at NCC, disclosed this development in a statement issued Friday, February 25, 2022, in Abuja, FCT.

The NCC Director of Public Affairs stated Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of NCC, officially confirmed the payment status Friday, February 24, just as the deadline set for the two winners of the spectrum auction elapsed.

The country’s telecoms sector regulatory Commission also noted that as part of the auction process emplaced by the NCC in the Information Memorandum (IM), three companies, namely MTN Nigeria, Mafab Communications Limited and Airtel Networks Limited had submitted bids with an Initial Bid Deposit (IBD) of $19.74 million, representing 10 percent of the Reserve Price of the 3.5GHz Spectrum by the close of the bid submission date November 29, 2021.

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“Following the successful auction on December 13, 2021 and the emergence of MTN and Mafab as winners, they were required to pay the balance of the bid amount of $253.86 million on or before February 24, 2022,” stated the Commission.

The NCC, however, said aside from the $273.6 million payment, MTN Nigeria as well paid additional $15.9million, being the bidding sum it offered at the assignment state of the spectrum auction, making it clinch its preferred Lot 1 (3500-3600 Megahertz-MHz) in the 3.5Ghz spectrum.

Mafab Communications, which bade lower at the assignment stage, consequentially settled with Lot 2 (3700-3800Mhz) at no extra cost.

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Prof. Danbatta, confirming the payments by the two licensees, stated: “I wish to officially announce that NCC has received and confirmed payments from MTN and Mafab for their acquisition of 1 slot of 100Mhz each in the 3.5Ghz spectrum auction, which was successfully conducted by the Commission on December 13, 2021. They both met the deadline of February 24, 2022 as set by the Commission.

EVC/CEO commends Minister, NCC Board and Management, Telcos

“Arising from this and on behalf of the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, the Board and Management of the NCC, I wish to congratulate the MTN and Mafab on this feat, as we look forward to accomplishing other deployment timelines in the 5G deployment roadmap, as articulated in the National Policy on 5G Networks for Nigeria’s Digital Economy.”

For meeting the payment deadline, Danbatta has commended the two telecoms companies for their commitment to 5G deployment drive through their private investments.

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He said this was a demonstration of the licensees’ belief in the sound regulatory environment in the Nigerian telecommunications sector of the economy.

The NCC EVC/CEO further expressed appreciation to the Federal Government for its support and commitment to the deployment of 5G technology in Nigeria, which Danbatta noted would bring substantial network improvements, including higher connection speed, mobility and capacity, as well as low-latency capabilities to communications services in the country.

3.5 GHz Spectrum auction process for 5G deployment

It is recalled the regulatory Commission, in 2021, published a Public Notice on its decision to award two lots of 100MHz 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 technology in Nigeria.

READ ALSO: NCC Holds Stakeholder Engagement Forum On 5G Spectrum Auction

Subsequently, the NCC issued an Information Memorandum (IM) November 10, 2021, in which Bid Applications for the available spectrum lots were invited.

By the deadline for receipt of applications November 29, 2021, the Commission had received applications from three licensed telecommunications companies, namely: Airtel Networks Limited, Mafab Communications Limited and MTN Communications Nigeria Plc.

The Auction held successfully Monday, December 13, 2021, at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, with the three bidders competing for the available two lots in which the Commission adopted the Ascending Clock Auction format that ended after Round 11, and proceeded to the Assignment Stage.

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In the auction, MTN and Mafab emerged provisional licence winners and arising from this, the winning bid price for the auction was put at $273.6 million for each lot of 100 MHz TDD.

The telecoms regulator then directed the provisional licence winners to pay the Winning Bid Price less the Intention-to-Bid Deposit by February 24, 2022.

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It stated that the industry stakeholders and observers have commended the Commission for the auction process, described as efficient, fair, well-organised and transparent; and designed to deliver the ideal outcome.

According to NCC, the outcome has seen the strongest bidders emerge as winners, raising a substantial amount for the Federal Government of Nigeria, and setting the stage for the next phase in 5G roadmap for the country.

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