By Olubunmi Adeniyi
Lagos. February 14, 2013: Three companies are lobbying the Federal Government to allocate two remaining slots on the 2.3GHz frequency spectrum for them to offer telecoms services in Nigeria rather than throwing it open for a competitive bid.
The telecoms regulator that dropped the hint says that the companies are citing mutual interference on the frequency spectrum as the reason why they are asking that the slots be allocated to them.
According to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), it has received memoranda from three unnamed companies cited as “existing operators” who want the regulator to issue them the frequency slots on grounds of “mutual interference”.
The frequency spectrum often used for providing broadband service was allotted to three companies, Mobitel Nigeria Limited, Spectranet Limited, and Multilinks Telkom Limited (now Multi Links), for a fixed price of N1, 368 billion per slot in a 2009 competitive bid that was to become mired in controversy.
NCC says it now wants to license the two remaining slots on the 2.3 GHz frequency spectrum and is asking for stakeholder input to decide whether the modality for letting go of the resource.
The regulator says that the sale of of the 2.3 GHz frequency band is aimed at creating further opportunities for broadband penetration in the country.
In the 2009 bids, the 2.3 GHz spectrum was offered in five slots of 20 MHz each for five potential buyers and the Commission licensed part of the 2.3 GHz frequency band (TDD) in slots of 20 MHz per operator. The band now has three operators with 20 MHz each which leaves two more slots up for sale by the government.
According to NCC, it is considering licensing the two remaining slots and the existing operators have forwarded a memorandum to the Commission requesting the industrial umpire to issue them the two remaining slots instead of putting it out for public auction.
NCC says that to facilitate its decision and in line with its policy of participatory regulation, it plans to host a stakeholder engagement forum on March 4, 2013 to discuss the options available for licensing the remaining slots.
The major option for consideration amongst others that stakeholders may propose is: publicly auction 1 x 30 MHz to one new operator and use the remaining 10 MHz as Guard Band between adjacent slots and at the edges of the band, NCC says.
“A call for memos on proposed licensing options, which should be technically justified, is canvassed. This should not however exclude further views which stakeholders believe are relevant,” the regulator announced asking interested stakeholders to submit their input on or before February 28, 2013.