By Josephine Isaac
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has confirmed issuance of the final letters of award of the Fifth Generation (5G) Spectrum Licences to MTN and Mafab Communications, winners of the 3.5GHz spectrum auction conducted by the Commission on Monday, December 13, 2021.
Management of the Commission led by Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), confirmed this to the Board of Commissioners at the Board’s Special Meeting, which took place on Wednesday, April 20 and Thursday, April 21, 2022, where the Board considered updates from Management on the status of the spectrum auction.
NCC’s statement signed by Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, Director, Public Affairs indicates that with the issuance of the final letters of awards of 5G spectrum and in line with the Auction’s Information Memorandum (IM), the two licensees are now expected to accelerate deployment of 5G network that will usher Nigeria into a more robust Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and a more digitised Nigerian economy.
In line with the terms and conditions of the 5G license, the licensees are expected to commence roll out 5G services effective from August 24, 2022.
The 5G network, when deployed, will bring a lot of benefits and opportunities that will engender accelerated growth and smart living in the country. The technology is also expected to bring substantial network improvements, including higher connection speed, mobility and capacity, as well as low-latency capabilities.
Following a transparent, diligent, fair and credible auction of 3.5GHz on December 13, 2021, the National Frequency Management Council (NFMC), chaired by Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, had on February 22, 2022, officially handed over the spectrum allocation for 5G deployment as well as Federal Government-approved National Policy on 5G to the Commission.
Subsequently, the Commission, on February 24, 2022, confirmed the full payment of $273.6 million each by the two spectrum winners, in addition to spectrum assignment fee paid by MTN, for the 5G spectrum licence.
The Commission is optimistic that effective implementation of the National Policy on 5G will accelerate the actualisation of the national targets in the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025, the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030, as well as other sectoral policies designed to enhance Nigeria’s digital transformation.
While the licensees are expected to meet the timetable regarding their 5G network rollout obligations, the NCC requires collective efforts and support of the private-sector and government toward transforming every aspect of the nation’s economy through 5G, which will herald greater transformation than what the nation witnessed with the 1G, 2G, 3G and 4G.