The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) may roll out three additional 3.5GHz spectra licences for the Fifth Generation (5G) licences in the next two years.
Prof. Umar Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Commission, gave the hint in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
Danbatta said that, however, the rollout of the three licences would depend on the pace at which winners of the first two licences developed their respective spectrum.
The EVC spoke to NAN when he accompanied Prof. Isa Pantami, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, to Lagos for a breakfast session with start-up digital innovation techs stakeholders on Tuesday.
NAN reports that the Federal Government had in December 2021 announced successful bidders for two 3.5GHz spectra of the 5G network licences for $547.2 million.
MTN Nigeria and Mafab Communications had won the bidding and were given up till Thursday, Feb. 24 to pay $273,600,000 each.
Danbatta confirmed to NAN that MTN had paid fully for the licence while Mafab still had a grace of two days to pay up.
The Federal Government last week officially handed over the spectrum allocation for 5G deployment in the country to the NCC in Abuja.
“Two telecommunication companies won the bid for the 5G spectrum licences in December and were given two months within which to pay up.
“So far, MTN has paid $273,600,000 while Mafab Communication has up to the Feb. 24 to pay.
“There is still time and we are optimistic,’’ he told NAN.
According to the EVC, there is a provision in the Information Memorandum that says “we need to give our preferred bidders up to two years to operate’’.
He did not comment on what would likely happen if Mafab did not meet the payment deadline.
Danbatta, however, added that there was also a provision that the waiting period could be reviewed.
“I’m not saying the review is in the process as we talk.
“Not yet because we want to ensure that these two assigned licences have started operations and are okay.
“Of course, we will give them time to see what plans they have because they need to start implementing their plan for expansion of infrastructure that will support these additional services.
“Everything is on the table, meaning we have so far auctioned two slots.
“We have three more to go and nothing stops the NCC from assigning the remaining slots.’’
He, however, said that NCC was delaying to roll out the remaining slots “until after the two years specified or the government may say, look, cut down the years from two years to maybe one year’’.
Danbatta also noted that the government could provide additional incentives to the two licensees.
“This is so that together, we can be able to agree that there is a need for a reduction in the waiting time for a licence,” he said. (NAN)