The Digital Mobile Licence (DML) issued MTN Nigeria and other mobile network operators in 2001 were not renewed at expiration in February this year due to telecoms policy review, the nation’s telecoms regulator says.
Technology Times review of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) documents on Nigerian telecoms market, the watchdog cites that the mobile phone companies were switched to Universal Access Services Licence (UASL) following policy review to embrace convergence.
“In February 2016, the DML issued by the Commission expired. The Commission has accordingly informed the licensees that the DML will not be renewed hence any licensee that does not already have a UASL will be required to obtain it”, the telecoms regulator says in the telecoms market overview report reviewed by Technology Times.
The thinking within the local telecoms policy and regulatory administration is that across the world, technology evolution is driving convergence, which is seen as eroding boundaries between previously separate information and communication technology (ICT) services. The result of convergence has seen telecoms companies offering a bouquet of telephone service, Internet, multimedia and allied services.
It is also understood that based on the thinking within the Nigerian telecoms regulatory administration, the boundary between the disparate technologies of telecommunications and broadcasting are now blurring as they are now fusing into one service, a development that may have informed the licensing policy review.
In order to ride the crest of the global convergence trend, the Nigerian telecoms regulator had in 2006, ahead of the expiration of DMLs early this year, introduced the UASL to “enable operators take advantage of convergence in services and technology in order to offer better services.”
In February 2001, NCC issued the first batch of GSM licences to the quartet of MTN Nigeria, owned by MTN Group of South Africa; Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL, now trading as nTEL), the nation’s pioneer National Operator; Communications Investments Limited (CIL), owned by Nigerian businessman, Mike Adenuga Jnr and Econet Wireless Nigeria (now Airtel Nigeria), owned at the time by Econet Wireless International and Nigerian investors, following the landmark digital mobile spectrum auctions mid-wifed by the telecoms regulator.