MTN Nigeria says it has paid N18.96 billion licence fee after winning in a national broadband spectrum auction where the mobile phone company was sole bidder.
In a statement sent to Technology Times today, MTN Nigeria also confirmed that another N30 billion has been paid to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) as part of the renegotiated N330 billion punitive fine imposed on the telecoms company for 5.1 million unregistered phone subscribers.
The payment of the latest N30 billion increases fines so far paid by MTN Nigeria to N80 billion, after the Federal Government struck a deal with the mobile phone company to reduce the N1.04 trillion fine to N330 billion.
Meanwhile, Ferdi Moolman, CEO of MTN Nigeria says that “after complying with all the requirements for the 2.6GHz auction and making the licence payment of N18.96 billion to the NCC, MTN has been issued a letter of award. With the 2.6 GHz band, we expect to roll out and provide the full range of LTE services to Nigerians, empowering Nigeria with the latest mobile broadband technology.”
Today’s payment confirmation by MTN Nigeria followed an announcement by NCC that MTN Nigeria was provisionally granted the 2.6GHz spectrum when the mobile phone company staked $90 million to emerge sole bidder in the latest licence sales by the telecoms industry regulator.
Earlier this month, Mr. Tony Ojobo, Director of Public Affairs at NCC confirmed the provisional award of the 2.6GHz spectrum to MTN Nigeria, pending the final completion of payment balance by the mobile phone company.
NCC, which carried out the licence sale said that MTN has 21 days from June 13, this year, the date of provisional award to complete the final payment less the Intention-to-Bid Deposit (IBD) already paid to qualify for the spectrum sale.
“MTN has 21 days from the date of Provisional Award (June 13, 2016) to pay the Reserve Price less the Intention-to-Bid Deposit (IBD) it has already paid. In the event that MTN fails to pay the fee within the specified period, MTN will lose the Award and also forfeit the IBD”, according to Ojobo.
“The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has declared MTN as winner of its latest auction for a ten-year frequency spectrum licence for the 2.6GHz band, which guarantees superior performance for wireless networks, especially 4G LTE services. The NCC had earlier confirmed that MTN’s bid was in full compliance with the relevant provisions of the Information Memorandum (IM) for the exercise in which MTN emerged as sole approved bidder”, the mobile phone company’s CEO says.
MTN Nigeria CEO says that, “the award of the spectrum by the NCC was further to an open, transparent and competitive process in which all operators – local and foreign; enjoyed equal and unfettered rights of participation in line with the NCC’s desire for transparency and ensuring a level playing field for all. The NCC has described this spectrum as a significant trigger for a broadband revolution that will unlock benefits such as greater coverage, access, affordability and innovation, with the customer at the centre of these gains.”
Meanwhile, MTN Nigeria today says it has been finally granted the 2.6 GHz spectrum in a move that supports the NCC’s objective to deliver broadband services to present and future generations of subscribers, in line with the National Broadband Plan of 2013 that outlines a broad diffussion plan for high speed Internet access across Nigeria. The mobile company says the licence also win underscores its commitment to deepen investments in Nigeria’s broadband infrastructure.
Moolman adds that the latest 2.6GHz spectrum acquisition “has set the stage for the roll-out of 4G LTE broadband Internet services across the country, starting in the major cities of Lagos and Abuja.
According to the MTN Nigeria CEO, “our subscribers, especially those in clustered areas such as the major cities, can expect distinct improvements in browsing speed, quality and experience. This means that they will have fast access to high definition video streaming, as well as conferencing and calling, lag-free music streaming, and improved data uploads and downloads.”
Moolman says that “this licence acquisition further demonstrates MTN’s abiding faith in the future of Nigeria and the resilience of the Nigerian economy. MTN continues to believe in Nigeria and we have expressed this belief in the level of our investment, which currently stands at approximately $15 billion and counting. We strongly believe that there is need for significant levels of investment in broadband infrastructure and services to truly launch Nigeria into the information age. We are honoured to be the arrowhead.”
The MTN Nigeria CEO also adds that the company is delighted that “the matter of the fine imposed by the NCC was amicably settled in the interest of all parties. I am pleased to announce that the first payment of N30 billion in the terms of settlement has already been disbursed to the NCC. In addition to the earlier payment of N50 billion which we paid in good faith and without prejudice on February 24, this means we have now paid a total of N80 billion.”
For Moolman, “in addition to aggressive investment, MTN has also built the most extensive private fibre optics superhighway in Africa and the Middle East, covering approximately 16,000 kilometres, which is longer than the distance from Indonesia (Asia) to Argentina (South America)!”