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9mobile, Airtel Oppose 800MHz Spectrum Transfer To MTN



Mobile Network Operators, 9Mobile and Airtel Nigeria have opposed the proposed transfer of licence and resources, including 800MHz Spectrum from Visafone Communications Limited to MTN Nigeria Communication Limited.

Voicing their concerns during a public inquiry held on the Visafone transfer of licence and resources convened by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), yesterday in Abuja, the operators insisted that transferring 800MHz to MTN would not result in a level playing field for other operators.

In his remarks, the 9mobile head of regulatory affairs, Chidozie Arinze, emphasised that transferring the spectrum to MTN is giving them undue advantage over other operators, stressing that the move is not in the interest of telecom consumers and the Nigerian economy.

Arinze noted that such acquisition is antagonistic, even as he urged the telecom regulator to borrow a leaf from other developed nations by placing a restriction to the amount of spectrum a telecom operator is allowed to buy.

He said: “In the UK, the regulator placed limitations on the amount of spectrum that an operator could buy. So, controlling the amount of spectrum that an operator can buy is a worldwide phenomenon. It is not tied to the Nigerian market.”

In response, the MTN senior manager, regulatory affairs, corporate relations, Johnson Oyewo, highlighted that access to spectrum itself is not an offence, stressing that what MTN has done was to explore the opportunity that was available to get access to the spectrum, even as he urged other operators to come up with ideas that’ll promote telecommunication in the interest of the nation and its consumers.

He said: “From that standpoint I think our colleagues must come to the table, they must show commitment to the Nigerian economy. Because the concern really has been investment, on the global scale, my colleague in Airtel just spoke, Airtel is the third largest operator globally today, much bigger than MTN. so, when you’re talking about investment we want other companies like us to come into Nigeria and invest.”

He added that MTN is thriving because it has an insatiable appetite of investment for the greater good of the consumers and the Nigerian economy.

Earlier, the executive vice chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, stated that the public inquiry would lead to an informed decision consistent with the commission’s mandate to create an enabling environment for effective competition in the industry as well to ensure the provision of qualitative and efficient telecommunications services throughout the country.

“In line with the spirit of participatory regulation and strategic objective of the commission to hold regular consultation with the industry stakeholders which include operators, consumers, academia etc., the commission has decided to hold a public inquiry to elicit inputs and comments from stakeholders to enable us draw important and beneficial contributions from your wealth of field experience and research,” he added.