Another 5G spectrum bid is being submitted by MTN Nigeria
MTN Nigeria Communication Plc, Nigeria’s biggest telecommunications provider, has shown interest in participating in the Nigerian Communications Commission’s planned auction of two additional 3.5 GHz spectrums.
The telecom behemoth claims that having an additional 100 MHz in the 3.5 GHz frequency band would allow it to deploy 5G services more effectively.
Remember that MTN and Mafab Communications won the NCC’s first 3.5 GHz spectrum auction in December 2021. The licence cost each company $273.6 million.
MTN is now the only telecom provider in Nigeria that has put out 5G service, while Mafab’s deployment deadline was extended by 5 months, expiring in January 2023.
The corporation is now interested in purchasing another lot of the same spectrum. It should be noted that the draught Information Memorandum (IM) for the upcoming 3.5 GHz spectrum auction excludes from participation any operator who has already secured the same licence.
“Licensees with spectrum holdings in the 3.5 GHz band are not eligible,” the IM states.
MTN makes the following argument: while the telecom regulator plans to issue the final IM for the auction on November 18, stakeholders may provide feedback that will be included in the final document. MTN said in response to the draught:
“We note, with concern, the provision of the draught IM which provides that “the Commission places a cap of 100 MHz as the maximum amount of spectrum a licence can acquire in the 3.5 GHz band” and respectfully invite the Commission to note that it has assured that an operator’s emergence as a winning bidder in the 2021 auction of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz spectrum band will not be a restriction on the said operator’s ability to participate in future licencing processes.” \s”
“The unrestricted ability of past auction winners from the December 2021 auction to participate in this quick spectrum auction will contribute to a more comprehensive and competitive spectrum auction process.”
MTN respectfully reiterates its former proposal that to guarantee that all the spectrum may be allocated and utilised effectively, it will be acceptable to enable successful bidders in the past auctions of spectrum in the 3.5GHz (or indeed any other frequency band) to participate in future awards. MTN believes that a cumulative maximum of 200 MHz in the 3.5 GHz range is suitable across all frequencies in the band.
NCC’s response: The NCC acknowledged MTN’s concerns during a stakeholder forum on Tuesday to discuss the issues raised on the IM. It hinted that the final position on the issue would be reflected in the final IM, which would be released soon.
The auction of two lots of 3.5GHz spectrum for 5G service is scheduled for December 19 in Abuja. The reserve price for the auction has been set at $273.6 million, which is the price paid by the previous winners of the same licence.
However, based on comments on the IM and interactions at the stakeholder forum, only two operators, Airtel and MTN, had expressed interest in the spectrum auction.