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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

MMDS operators warn on proposed 2.5G auction

THE Microwave Multi-channels Distribution Systems (MMDS) operators in the country have warned on the proposed plan to auction the Enhanced Second Generation (2.5G) spectrum by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

This range of spectrum, according to experts have been designed for the use of digital television broadcast as well as broadband provisioning, through the use of different formats like the Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX) and other broadband deliveries.

MMDS operators who are predominantly providers of broadcasting services using the 2.5G licensed spectrum, said relevant consultation were not carried out by NCC before proclaiming the proposal, insisting that its illegal and detrimental to the growth of the nation.

Sounding this note of caution, the operators who spoke through the chief executive of Disc Communications, Mr. Bayo Banjo, while condemning the plans, noted that the 2.5G spectrum has been in use by MMDS operators since 1993 after dully licensed by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and approved by the Frequency Management Commission.

He explained that the same license was renewed early this year for another five years and fully paid for as required by law, thus questioning the rationale behind the planned auction, since the spectrum is currently in use by broadcasters.

He also said that his group has not been formally informed in any form, pointing out that though it started as rumour, they have seen NCC officials in some locations owned by MMDS operators with spectrum analyzers in order to determine what spectrum is in use in those places.

“We would like to take this seriously because some of us have seen officials of NCC snooping around licensed MMDS operators with their spectrum analyzers, to determine what spectrum is in use,” he alleged.

He pointed out that in the past decade and half, MMDS operators have invested well over $40 million on expansion programme and for ordering of equipment, explaining that the NBC had in the last two years, forced all operators to scrap their analogue systems and go digital.

“Across the nation, all MMDS operators have scraped their equipment, lost all subscribers and have had to start from scratch. We are presently building up our subscriber base and have ordered thousand of digital decoders which have been paid for. We have also ordered WIMAX equipment in order to migrate simultaneously to broadband Internet Protocol Tv (IPTV) broadcast,” Banjo declared.

The operators further wondered if MMDS operators are lesser Nigerians that they cannot provide bandwidth and do triple play to merit such action from NCC.

He explained that the 2.5G spectrum, is currently regarded as a medium that allows operators to bridge the gap among all the diverse ethnic groups in the country, maintaining that it should not auctioned.

Noting that NCC has lots of telecommunication spectrums to play with including the 3.2G, 2.3G, which is the most developed WiMAX frequency with the highest penetration of broadband.

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