NCC to Review 2.6GHz Spectrum Plan, Sees Further Growth in Telecoms

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Emma Okonji
Following the refusal of telecommunications operators to participate in the planned 2.6GHz spectrum auction last month, citing high cost of the spectrum licence fees, and high exchange rate, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the telecoms industry regulator, has said it will soon meet with operators to review the planned auctioned exercise.

NCC had advertised for the auction of the country’s 2.6GHz spectrum, but only MTN Nigeria indicated interest to bid for 6 out of 14 available lots offered by NCC, yet the majority of the operators needed the spectrum to drive broadband service offerings on their networks.
NCC had pegged each of the 14 available lots at $16 million and each operator needed more than one lot for network expansion, depending on the financial capacity.

The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, disclosed the review plan in Abuja yesterday, while receiving a consortium of international investors led by UBS South Africa.
Danbatta also lauded the performance of the nation’s telecommunications industry in the first quarter of 2016, which he said would even improve in the subsequent quarters of the year.

Answering question on the 2.6.GHz spectrums auction the Danbatta said: “We are doing a post mortem and we have not yet met with the operators to find out why they did not bid, except one operator.
“The intention is to be able to know their reasons, and to know in what way the regulator can come in to relax some of the conditions in the process, if this relaxation can lead to more operators going for the remaining eight lots of the spectrum.

“I am sure the commission will be disposed to looking at the reasons that prevented other operators from coming forward to bid, except only one,” he further noted.
He said, the commission incorporates elements of flexibility in its dealing with operators, in order to continue to sustain the growth in the sector, which he said, “has the potential to provide an alternative to oil and gas.”

“I think we are happy with the level of compliance to regulatory stipulations in general, minus the MTN incident, which cast some sort of shadow in our regulatory derive to ensure sustainability and stability of the industry,” Danbatta said.

“I am happy, we are putting that one behind us, and this is attested to by recent statistics by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) that the industry recorded a growth of 0.5 per cent to GDP in comparison to the same period last year,” he added.

“In monetary terms, this is going to translate to over N1.4 trillion, only in the first quarter of this year. While other sectors of the economy is recording negative growth, the telecom industry has been recording positive growth and I think it is poised to grow even further in the subsequent quarters of the year,” he explained.