Other operators and industry stakeholders are currently enraged by MTN’s interest in acquiring additional Fifth-Generation (5G) spectrum licenses.
Other operators and stakeholders who opposed MTN’s proposal did in fact assert that such a chance may turn the player into a dominant service provider in the nation without taking the evolution of the telecoms industry into account.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) meeting on this topic peaked on “Stakeholders’ Engagement on the Draft Information Memorandum (IM) on the Auction of Additional 2 Lots of 100MHz in the 3.5GHz Band,” in Lagos, yesterday.
Prior to the proposed $273.6 million 5G spectrum auction, set for December 19 in Abuja, the NCC called the meeting. The forum was utilized by the commission to solicit additional comments from the industry on the draft for the auction, in which Lots A (3400-3500MHz) and C (3600-3700MHz) are opened.
Nigeria already had plans for four 5G licenses. Two lots have received licenses thus far, with one of them being operational. NCC anticipated that by December there would be two more.
MTN was quoted in the NCC’s Assistant Director Technical Standard and Network Integrity Department’s reading of the prior stakeholder responses to the draft IM saying “had respectfully reiterated its prior recommendations that, to ensure that all the spectrum can be assigned and used efficiently, it will be appropriate to allow successful bidders in the prior auctions of spectrum in the 3.5GHz (or indeed any other spectrum band) to participate in future awards. It is in MTN’s considered view that a cumulative cap of 200MHz in the 3.5GHz would be appropriate across all awards in the band.”
Regarding the subject, NCC replied, “Comment received. On this, further stakeholder perspectives are also required.
Stakeholders and operators who spoke during the question-and-answer session asserted that giving MTN another 5G license would make them a dominant player and as a result would prevent other competitors, particularly Tier 2 operators, from expanding and maintaining a competitive edge in the market.
They emphasized that it goes against the market’s spirit of competition for one telecom to hold multiple licenses when other operators have not yet obtained any of them.
Ikenna Ikeme, general manager of regulatory affairs at the telecommunications business, defended MTN by claiming that the company entered the 2021 auction anticipating that it would be an open market and that it would be permitted to take part in future auctions should the need arise.
MTN’s proposal isn’t the first in the telecoms sector, the NCC Executive Commissioner for Technical Services, Ubale Maska, said, adding that Nigeria is an open market and there will be additional consultations on the matter.
Maska cited other nations where such things had already occurred, including the United States, Germany, and Finland.
The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, stated that all requests will be given due consideration and that a final decision will be made before the auction in light of the fact that the current 5G license auction is politically motivated and a way for the Federal Government to raise more money.
The EVC stated that additional comments are welcome and that the auction process is not intended to bring in money for the government.
“The motive is not to generate money for the federal government. It has nothing to do with the revenue we are going to generate. The price was determined by the last auction. We will always make reference to the reserve price no matter when the auction was held,” Danbatta said.
Meanwhile, the NCC turned down Airtel Nigeria’s request for administrative assignment of spectrum to launch 5G services in the nation after it took part in the previous auction.
Airtel had claimed that the Federal Government’s revenue increased as a result of its participation in the most recent 3.5GHz spectrum bid round. Therefore, it pleaded with the commission to grant it the license without holding an auction.
According to Airtel, the businesses that chose not to take part in the process last year ought to be forced to do so.
The NCC, however, insisted that it would only distribute spectrum following an open, transparent, and competitive bidding process.
Additionally, Huawei and other interested parties protested that the Reserve Price of $273.6 million was excessive in light of the nation’s current economic position and, most crucially, the volatility and unpredictability of foreign exchange.
However, NCC claimed in the IM that the most recent auction had established the market price for the spectrum units.