The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has set the reserve price for sale of Fifth Generation (5G) auction at $197.4 million for mobile network operators (MNOs).
According the 5G auction draft Information Memorandum (IM) released by the commission yesterday, the telecom regulator plans to hold the auction in December.
NCC said it may offer two lots of 100 Megahertz (MHz) each in the 3.5 Gigahertz (GHz) band ranging from 3500 to 3600 MHz and 3700 to 3800 MHz for auction for the 5G network deployment in the country as it is empowered by Section 121 of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003.
In the 80-page Draft IM document on 3.5GHz Spectrum Auction uploaded by NCC yesterday, the Commission said that the Generic Reserve Price (GR) is the minimum price at which a Lot shall be sold.
NCC said this is the Reserve Price for one Lot of 100 MHz and has a value of $197,400,000.00 ($197.4m) or its equivalent in Naira at the prevailing Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) rates at the time of the auction. It stressed that each lot of 1 X 100 MHz represents one eligibility point.
The IM defines the process for the licensing of Spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band by the NCC. The Commission explained that the assignment process will comprise an auction to be held in Abuja, which is expected to take place during the week commencing December 13, 2021 and will be an Ascending Clock Auction with exit bids. Mock Auction is expected to hold first, December 6.
According to NCC, “the spectrum lot won by each bidder will be assigned on a nationwide basis covering all the states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).”
However, NCC said the IM is for information purposes only. It is not intended to form the sole basis of an investment decision and should not be considered as a recommendation by the Commission to any stakeholder to participate in the auction. It stressed that independent assessment of the potential value of the assignment of the 3.5 GHz spectrum should be made as deemed necessary.
The Commission noted that the IM may be subject to update, modification and amendment. NCC, which said the spectrum is offered by the Commission on a technology neutral basis for provision of communications service, disclosed that it intends to adhere to International standards for roll-out of services on the band.
The document reminded that NCC has a subsisting policy on “use-it or lose-it” with respect to the use of assigned Spectrum. It explained that where a winner does not hold a Unified Access Service Licence (UASL) which is the operational licence for the frequency spectrum slated for auction, it will be issued at an additional fee of N374, 600,000.00 or at the subsisting licence fee at the time of the auction
The Federal Government on Wednesday September 9, 2021, approved the deployment of the 5G in Nigeria. Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) announced the approval after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja.
Following the approval, the Minister directed the NCC to commence immediate implementation of the 5G plan for the country. According to Pantami, the roll-out of the 5G will be carried out in phases beginning with major cities in the country “where there is need for high quality broadband.”
The approval came after the government had addressed concerns about the health implications of the 5G network, stressing that “5G is expected to facilitate several emerging technologies, generate innovative use cases, spur significant socio-economic growth and create jobs.”
Following a successful conduct of the FG trial in South Africa, the MTN in 2019 conducted its 5G network trial in Abuja, Nigeria, the first for any country in West Africa.
MTN also conducted network trials in Calabar and Lagos. The network testing in Abuja was powered by Huawei while Calabar and Lagos were powered by ZTE and Ericsson respectively.
In a comparison test on both 4G and 5G networks, it was discovered that it took just 15.78 seconds to download a 2.3 GB video on the 5G network. The same file on 4G took exactly 5 minutes, 3.84 seconds.
Just last week, at the Nigerian e-Government Summit held in Lagos, the executive vice chairman, NCC, Professor Umar Danbatta, pointed out that, following the presidential approval of the 5G Policy, the NCC has developed a 5G Deployment Plan for Nigeria’s digital economy.
Danbatta said the commission has set up a committee to auction the 3.5 GHz band for 5G deployment in Nigeria. Prof. Danbatta also disclosed that the regulator is currently updating the National Frequency Allocation Table (NFAT) to achieve more efficient spectrum allocation and usage to reflect World radio communications Conference (WRC)-19 recommendations.
He declared that the update of the spectrum allocation table is among several other initiatives being implemented by NCC to ensure efficient use of spectrum resources in the country.