NCC Explains Delay in 2.6GHz Spectrum Auction

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Emma Okonji

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), at the weekend, explained the delay in the auction of the nation’s 2.6GHz spectrum, attributing it to the fact that only one operator indicated interest to bid for the spectrum.

NCC had planned to licence the 2.6GHz spectrum to any telecoms operator that would emerge winner in a planned bid auction scheduled to hold last Monday, but the auction did not take place as planned, a situation that raised concerns of industry stakeholders.
NCC had already closed the submission of applications for the bidding process on April 29, 2016, with a plan to select qualified bidders that will eventually bid for the auction of the licence on May 16.

Stakeholders’ fears were heightened because NCC had in the past, planned to auction the 2.6GHz spectrum twice, and equally failed twice to auction the spectrum, giving administrative reasons for its failure.
In a statement at the weekend, NCC said: “In line with Information Memorandum (IM) on the auction of 70 MHz in the 2.6 GHz Spectrum Band published on February 25, 2016 the Nigerian Communications Commission, on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria, wishes to announce that the auction process, which closed for submission of applications on April 29, 2016, produced one qualified bidder.”

The qualified bidder expressed an interest to bid for six lots out of the 14 lots on offer and paid the bid deposit as specified by the Information Memorandum on the auction, the statement said.
The Director of Public Affairs at NCC, Mr. Tony Ojobo, who signed the statement, said: “Therefore, the need for an auction event no longer arose as the IM, stated that “If the aggregate demand from approved bidders is less than, or equal to the number of lots on offer, the commission will provisionally award the license to the party/parties at the reserve price”.
Consequently, the commission is currently undertaking a due diligence with a view to issuing a letter of award of license for the cumulative 30MHz in the 2.6GHz frequency, Ojobo said, adding that upon approval, the qualified bidder will be required to pay a total $96 million for the license.

The 2.6 GHz band, which spans from 2.5 GHz band to 2.7 GHz band, covers the frequency range between 2500-2690 MHz, although there are some minor national variations among countries in the use of the frequency band. The 2.6 GHz band is often referred to as the ―IMT-2000 expansion band II and is sometimes called the 3G expansion band.
According to NCC, the 2.6GHz spectrum licence would enhance the availability of spectrum for speedy deployment of broadband services across the country.

The commission said the spectrum would also create opportunity for the deployment of advanced wireless 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology services, as well as improve standardisation and harmonisation of telecoms operations.