The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has begun an audit of Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) spectrum which was licenced in May 2002 and issued to indigenous companies to provide wireless internet and data services.
The audit is to ascertain the number of licences that have not been utilised by the licencees and prepare the spectrum for a new round of licencing.
Confirming the development, Mr. Tony Ojobo, Director, Public Affairs, NCC, said the Commission was currently carrying out spectrum audit and service providers who have not been using their spectra have been informed to write to the Commission to give reasons why they’ve not been able to utilise them. Only a few of them like Cyberspace Network Limited, Xcess Broadband which was acquired by MTN are operating.
Some of the FWAs were licenced in 2002 and have not been able to utilise the spectra allocated to them, due to inadequate investment. A good number of them were not able to commence operation because after a number of them carried out due diligence, it was discovered that they may not be able to compete adequately with the GSM service providers.
“For most of them it was like a business decision, do we invest or do we not invest and of cause, there is no service provider that can generate all the money it requires to rollout its network from day one. For us at the NCC, we have licence terms and conditions and where there is a breach, NCC knows what steps to take,” he said.
Ojobo added that from the time FWA operators were licenced, a lot has happened in the telecom world in terms of technology. “The issue is that how many of them would have been profitable today, offering their services in these days of mobile internet and all of that. The FWA system has function, people have to be carrying their things from one location to the other and also, it had some limited mobility.”
He said if somebody has a GSM which covers the entire country, the fixed wireless restricts you to a particular geographical location where there is lack of service.
“These are some of the things I believe that actually impacted on the bottom line of some of them who are service providers and also some of them who have gotten the licence, but couldn’t probably provide service because the venture capitalists and their investors discovered that the GSM was a much more attractive market to invest.”