NCC to Licence New Spectrums to Boost Broadband Services

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Emma Okonji
Determined to reduce congestion on existing microwave frequencies and increase broadband access across the country, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on Thursday announced fresh plans to licence new spectrums on the 38GHz and 42GHz bands.

The commission also made known its intention to re-plan the existing 23GHz spectrum band by increasing its capacity availability from 7MHz to 28MHz.
NCC made the disclosure in Lagos at a stakeholders’ consultative forum, where the stakeholders were allowed to make their inputs on the proposed plans.

The proposed switchover date from the 7MHz to 28MHz in the existing 23GHz frequency band is set for May 30, 2017, while the timeline for the utilisation of the new 38GHz and 42GHz spectrums, will take effect from between three to six months time, depending on when NCC comes out with the final framework on the new spectrums, which will be awarded on a ‘first come-first served basis.

The additional spectrum licences, according to NCC, would provide the much needed spectrum that operators would need to address the increasing demand for broadband services in the country.

Speaking on the importance of licensing additional spectrums in the country, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, who was represented by the Director, of Public Affairs at NCC, Mr. Tony Ojobo, said: “The emerging trend in the telecoms sector in Nigeria today, is broadband, which will certainly require massive deployments in terms of critical infrastructure, if the country is to achieve the set target of government of 30 per cent broadband penetration by 2018. The growth of broadband traffic is on the increase and therefore, additional spectrum resources would be required to avoid network challenges.”
It is for this reason that the NCC decided to take proactive measures in opening up of the 38GHz and 42GHz bands for use in Nigeria as well as the re-planning of the 23GHz microwave spectrum band, Danbatta said.

He said the radio spectrum in the 38 GHz and 42GHz spectrum bands were yet to be opened in Nigeria, and that the channelling plan for the 23GHz needs to be reviewed in line with international best practices to meet requirement for higher output, since it would also enable operators of the telecoms industry to effectively meet their spectrum needs for rollout of broadband services.

He said the licensing would further assist the commission’s drive for national broadband wireless access initiative, and address the growing demands by operators for spectrum availability for high speed and high capacity links for data-centric services.

Presenting a demo for the proposed plans for fresh licensing, the Deputy Director of Spectrum Administration at NCC, Mr. Oluwatoyin Asaju, said NCC benchmarked the pricing model for the 38GHz, 42GHz and 23GHz spectrums with countries that have already licensed the spectrums, and decided to take the average pricing. Countries benchmarked included South Africa, United States, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Australia, Canada and Uganda.

Some of the stakeholders who made inputs, expressed satisfaction over the fresh plans to licence additional spectrum bands, but frowned at the situation where the NCC had to benchmark pricing with countries whose performance index and level of infrastructure capacities are far higher than that of Nigeria. They however suggested that the NCC should consider benchmarking pricing with countries that are at par with Nigeria in terms of infrastructural development, in order to further reduce pricing.