The planned auction of 2.6GHz frequency spectrum to offer broadband service in Nigeria is not targetted to raise revenue for government, the nation’s telecoms regulator says.
The Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) says the imminent sale of the 2.6 GHz spectrum is rather seen by the Federal Government as a valuable national resource for which commercial opportunities exist.
Mr Augustine Nwaulune, Director of Spectrum Administration at NCC, clarified this government stance at an interactive session with journalists in Lagos ahead of the auctions scheduled to begin May 16 this year in Abuja.
Nigeria has projected to earn no less than $224 million from the auction of 14 lots of 2.6 GHz spectrum broadband licences which is hoped to open new broadband market opportunities.
Nwaulune says the proposed licensing of 2.6 GHz Spectrum had been seen to open up a new vista for the delivery of broadband services to subscribers in line with the National Broadband Plan of 2013 targeting 30 percent broadband penetration in Nigeria by end of 2018.
“It is a capacity spectrum. The whole essence is to ensure that broadband is available in every part of the nation.“The relevance of the 2.6GHz spectrum is that it has global harmonisation that will reduce cost because of the availability of the equipment,’’ the NCC Director says while fielding questions from journalists.
The only reason when an auction will take place is when those intending to bid for the spectrum are more the 14 slots available for licensing by the NCC, he adds.
“We have 14 slots to license. If we check the number of slots that are applied for are not more than fourteen, then everyone who has applied would be seen to have qualified or to have won what they applied for”, the NCC executive says.
According to Nwaulune, ”but if we have more than 14, then the auction will hold come 16th of May.”
The spectrum was offered by NCC on a technology-neutrality basis he says adding that it could be used to provide any telecommunication service.
Speaking on rollout of services, Nwaulune says the telecoms regulator plans to follow the recommendations by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) setting aside spectrum in the 2.6GHz band for provision of advanced wireless broadband services.
He says the license is open to both local and foreign investors noting that ”for an applicant to bid in the auction, he or she would have registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission.”
Interested parties would be subjected to a set of pre-qualification criteria and only parties that meet the criteria would be allowed to take part in the auction.
Nwaulune urged applicants to transfer an Intention-to-Bid Deposit corresponding to the number of lots they want to bid for into the designated account in clear funds.
Bidders must not have a relationship with another bidder and are not expected to make any public statement during the whole process, according Nwaulune.
”Any confidential information that is submitted to the Commission by bidders will not be disclosed to other parties unless it is deemed essential to the fair running of the licensing process or required by law. Under these circumstances, full consultation will take place with the affected party”, he adds.
”Bidders must not make any public statements concerning the auction during its progress” he says noting that “any bidder found in anti-competitive manner will be penalised.’’
Commenting on service obligation by auction winners, Nwaulune says that, “the winning licensee shall roll out service at least two state capitals in each of the six geo political zones.
” In the event of the winning licensee’s inability to deploy services as specified, the commission reserves the right to sanction the licensee based on relevant sections, except for areas where force majeure is established.
Nwaulune assures that ” the commission has determined that the auction will be a fair, transparent and efficient means of assigning the 2.6GHz spectrum.”