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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Operators kick as NCC fixes 5G license fee at N75 bln, auction holds Dec 13

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Telecommunications operators in the country have knocked the decision of the industry regulator to peg the reserve bid price of 5G license at N75 billion.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) had disclosed that the two spectrum slots reserved for 5G operations would be auctioned at N75 billion reserved price for each slot.

The Commission also announced that the auction for the slots will hold on December 13, 2021.

NCC made the revelations at a stakeholders’ engagement forum on draft information memorandum for 3.5 Hgz Spectrum auction  in Lagos.

In spectrum auctioning, reserved price means the starting point at which those interested in acquiring the slots could bid.

The industry regulator has also scheduled December 10 for the mock auction, while the actual auction is fixed for December 13, 2021.

Interested operators are expected to pay 10 percent of the reserved price of $197.4 million to qualify to participate in the auction.

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Kicking against the price, the Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria, Alton, Gbenga Adebayo, expressed concern that the price came a bit high for the operators, considering the huge investments they needed to make to ensure a robust 5G roll out in the country.

Adebayo believed that the best government should have done was to make the spectrum license as affordable as possible, so the country could maximize all the potentialities of 5G technology when rolled out.

”Let me say that the telcos will do everything possible to support the government to see out a successful auctioning and a smooth 5G roll out in the country.

“However, our concern is on the reserved price for the auction. That is where the issue is and that is where all the stakeholders should look into.”

Although Adebayo was seen as having spoken for all the telcos, being the leader of their umbrella body, individual companies who sent representatives to the forum, such as MTN, Airtel, Globacom, 9Mobile, Smile among others, told Vanguard that they had sent their concerns directly to the NCC on the high price of the license fee and other issues which they want the commission to look into.

The operators may be responding to concerns of the global body for all GSM companies, GSM Association, GSMA, which had earlier called on Nigeria to ensure its spectrum price was brought down to enable telcos roll out 5G services conveniently.

There is the belief that spectrum pricing in Nigeria is one of the highest in Africa.

The reserved price for the GSM auction in 2001 was fixed at $100million and the operators ended up paying up to $285 million at the end of the auction.

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