The Federal Government has again shifted the Nigeria 2.6GHz spectrum auctions “until further notice” in what marks the second interruption of the planned sale of key national broadband licences.
In announcing the shift, Dr. Eugene Juwah, the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the telecoms regulator that is also responsible for the 2.6GHz spectrum sale, gave no reason for the second postponement.[blockquote right=”pull-right” cite=”Dr. Eugene Juwah, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC)”]By this announcement, the 2.6GHz indicative auction timetable is suspended. We regret any inconvenience caused by this suspension.[/blockquote]
“The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria, regrets to inform parties interested in participating in the Auction of Frequency Spectrum Licenses in the 2.6GHz band that it has decided to postpone the process of the Auction until further notice”, Juwah said in the announcement issued on the telecoms regulator’s website.
According to him, “by this announcement, the 2.6GHz indicative auction timetable is suspended. We regret any inconvenience caused by this suspension.”
NCC’s shift of date comes just days after the telecoms watchdog resumed the process that was suspended late 2014.
Government has offered 14 licences at N130.5 billion in the fresh 2.6GHz spectrum auctions that was planned to hold May 5-8 in Abuja.
Prior to the latest shift, the auctions rules released by NCC stipulates a reserve price of N3,184,800,000.00 ($16,000,000) per slot for the 14 available licence to enable winners provide broadband services across the country.
The available slots of 14 licences totaling N130,576,800,000 will be enable the winners to offer broadband services across the country, under a government plan to offer impetus to diffusion of high-speed Internet services in Nigeria.
The telecoms watchdog had earlier released the Information Memorandum detailing rules for the postponed 2.6Ghz spectrum auctions a while back to resume the process suspended in November 2014 over what the agency cites as “administrative” issues.
Prior to this week’s shift, anticipation had been high that Abuja, the nation’s seat of power will in June this year play host to bidders hoping to explore stakes in the market for broadband services across Nigeria.
According to the Information Memorandum released by NCC, “The proposed licensing of 2.6 GHz Spectrum has been influenced by the need to open up the space for the delivery of present and future generations of broadband services to subscribers in consonance with the Nigerian National Broadband Plan of 2013.”
NCC, which says it decided to auction the “entire 2 X 70 MHz slot available in the 2.6 GHz band to support the delivery of broadband wireless services nationally” is also assuring investors of market potentials for their stakes in the communications industry.
It adds that, “Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa with a population of about 173.6 million people as at 2013 according to the World Bank. The population has grown at a rate of 2.3% for each year from 2000 to 2013. Approximately 60% of the population is under the age of 20.”
Today, Nigeria, which is home to over 125 million active mobile phone connections is calling on stakeholders to explore stakes in the Internet market, where subscription is lower than voice and hence opens market opportunities.
“In line with these demographic changes internet penetration has increased from less than 0.1% in 2001 to about 54% in December 2014. The 2012 National ICT policy placed broadband Internet penetration for both mobile and fixed broadband at about 6.1%. Given key demographic and economic developments throughout the country, and in particular the subsequent potential scale and growth of Internet penetration in Nigeria, the next phase of expansion in the telecommunications sector provides a number of major opportunities for telecommunications operators, subscribers and the economy in general”, according to NCC.