Some operators in the telecommunications sector have kicked against MTN’s request to participate in the upcoming 3.5GHz spectrum auction for 5G rollout in the country.
They made their position known at the Stakeholders’ Consultative Forum on the Draft Information Memorandum for the 3.5GHz Spectrum Auction in Lagos.
Reacting, MTN Nigeria’s General Manager Regulatory Affairs, Mr Ikenna Ikeme said the company participated in the last auction in 2021 with the expectation that since it is an open market it would be allowed to participate in other auctions if need be.
He explained that it’s request became necessary as OEMs that manufacture the 5G equipment often produce for two lots, either A and B or B and C, stating further that having a licence for two slots provides it with the necessary equipment it requires for effective deployment which will lower the cost of its service to the consumers.
Nigeria has four slots in the 3.5GHz Spectrum band, of which so far 2 of these licences have been auctioned although only one licence has launched for commercial services.
Responding, the Executive commissioner, Technical Services, NCC, Mr. Ubale Maska said MTN’s request was not a first in the telecoms industry as there are precedents and Nigeria is an open market.
The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Umar Garba Danbatta, said all requests will be given due consideration and final feedback made before the auction.
Danbatta noted that in line with the Commission’s strategic Vision (Implementation) Plan 2021 – 2025, which among other things, seeks to promote fair competition, inclusive growth, increased investment and innovative services, and also facilitate strategic collaboration and partnership,
He said the Commission intends to further deepen broadband penetration and encourage fair competition in the rollout of 5G services in the country by auctioning the available lots in the 3.5GHz mid-band spectrum.
This, he noted was the reason the NCC invited stakeholders to elicit comments on the draft Information Memorandum for the upcoming auction.
But NCC however, said it would only assign spectrum through open, transparent and competitive bidding.
Stakeholders complained that the Reserve Price of $273.6 million was too high considering the current economic situation in the country and most importantly the instability and fluctuation of foreign exchange.
Reporting by Chioma Ezike,Editing by Marian Benjamin