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Wednesday, November 16, 2022

NCC reassures on transparent 3.5GHz auction in December – ITREALMS

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has reassured on the transparency of the forthcoming 3.5Gega Hertz Spectrum Auction in December this year, reports 
ITREALMS.
Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, gave these assurances while speaking to 

ITREALMS on Tuesday, during the Stakeholders’ Consultative Forum on the Draft Information Memorandum for the 3.5GHz Spectrum Action, in Lagos.

He said there is no truth in insinuations in some parts of the industry that the auction was part of the Federal Government plan to mop up old Naira notes in the forthcoming auctioning of the available 2 lots in the 3.5GHz Spectrum band slated for December 2022.

The consultation meeting, he said, is in tandem with the Commission’s strategy of consulting with stakeholders in carrying out its regulatory functions.

“As a world class communications regulatory agency, we believe that our actions must be guided by decisions that take into cognizance the input from stakeholders in the industry. Therefore, we seek your active participation in these deliberations towards the licensing of the available two (2) lots in the 3.5GHz mid band Spectrum for the rollout of 5G services in Nigeria,” he said.

Danbatta recalled that Nigeria’s communications sector, has witnessed a major increase in competition driven by the government’s liberalization policies and the robust implementation of initiatives and policies over the years, which has stimulated the growth and development of the sector.

“To date, the Nigerian communications market is one of the biggest in Africa and also the largest contributor to the Information and Communications Technology sector of the Nigerian economy,” he said.

EVC pointed out that from the latest statistics, Nigeria has an estimated population of 214 million, with an average growth rate of 2.6 per cent annually.

“Approximately 76.46 per cent of the population is under the age of 35. In line with these demographic changes, broadband penetration increased from less than 10 per cent in 2015 to 45.09 per cent in September 2022.

This, he noted, arose from the significant increase in broadband penetration in Nigeria, it has become vital for us to move to the next phase of global development of the sector, given the opportunities that abound for all stakeholders in the industry and the economy at large.

In line with NCC Strategic Vision (Implementation) Plan 2021-2025, which he said, among other things, seeks to promote fair competition, inclusive growth, increased investment and innovative services, and also facilitate strategic collaboration and partnership.

“We we intend to further deepen broadband penetration and encourage fair competition in the rollout of 5G services in Nigeria by auctioning the available lots in the 3.5GHz Spectrum band. This is the reason why we have invited our stakeholders to elicit comments on the draft Information Memorandum (IM) for the upcoming auction.

Ladies and Gentlemen, our mandate as a Commission is to facilitate investment while also providing a platform for entry into the Nigerian market for the provision and supply of communications services, equipment and facilities, and promotion of fair competition in the communications industry; etc.

Following the successful auction of the initial two (2) lots in December 2021, the Commission has received requests to administratively licence the available lots at the previous auction fee.

Also, he said, the Commission, in line with its powers under the Nigerian Communications Act 2003, has decided to licence the available lots in the 3.5GHz band through the auction method which is a transparent and efficient approach that could open up opportunities for new entrants as well as deepen competition in the industry.

Danbatta, maintained that NCC has committed enormous resources to ensure that harmonized Spectrum is secured and released in a timely manner for present and future rollout of services that will underpin the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), including International Mobile Telecommunication (IMT-2020) services.

“We have kept ourselves abreast of developments at international fora, including ITU-R Study Groups to enable the allocation of strategic spectrum to IMT services especially the IMT-2020 which has been on the front burner in the last two ITU-R Study Cycles.

“Hence, it is important that we ensure the timely release of the Spectrum bands necessary for 5G deployment to the industry to enable us reap the immediate and envisaged benefits of 5G technology, and facilitate the development of Nigeria’s Digital Economy to foster national growth,” he said.

EVC emphasized that a draft Information Memorandum (IM) for the Auction of the 3.5GHz band was developed and published on NCC’s website to enable stakeholders review and make inputs and comments.

“We are here today, to deliberate on the draft document and make contributions towards the management and utilization of this resource in line with global best practices.

“The Commission will continue to develop policies and guidelines in conjunction with stakeholders to deliver better Quality of Experience for all, Danbatta submitted.

Remmy Nweke/DoP

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