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NCC recovers 3.5GHz spectrum from NIGCOMSAT, ready to commence auctioning

The recovery of the spectrum from NIGCOMSAT and reallocating it to the regulator was imperative as far as plans to roll out the 5G network is concerned – Pantami

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Pantami 5G

As part of the moves aimed at making the deployment of the 5G network a reality, the Federal Government has taken steps to fully recover the 3.5GHz spectrum band (the lower C-band) from NIGCOMSAT and reallocated it to the Nigeria Commissions Commission (NCC) for auction.

Amongst the Frequency Spectrum bands allocated to 5G by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the C-band (3.4GHz – 3.9GHz) stands out because its balancing point between coverage and capacity provides the perfect environment for 5G connectivity.

TechEconomy.ng had reported that NCC signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited (NigComSat) on the use of C-band spectrum for 5G services in May 2021.

NCC, NIGCOMSAT, 5G

R-r: The EVC, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof Umar Garba Danbatta and MD/CEO, NIGCOMSAT, Dr. Abimbola Alale, immediately after the MoU signing

The recovery of the spectrum from NIGCOMSAT and reallocating it to the regulator was imperative as far as plans to roll out the 5G network is concerned, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Ibrahim Pantami, said on Thursday during the Stakeholders’ Engagement Forum in Lagos.

In his keynote address “Deploying 5G Networks in Nigeria: The Critical Role of Stakeholders”, at the forum organized by the NCC, he said the next step is to auction the band which is under the purview of the NCC.

At the forum, the NCC listed conditions and qualifications to participate in the auctioning slated to hold on December 13, as well as the timelines for 5G deployment across the country.

However, the Minister urged the NCC to ensure transparency and accountability in the sale of the 3.5GHz spectrum band, describing it as common national heritage.

“The Federal Government thought it wise to involve relevant stakeholders in the process so that the general public is carried along.

“The purpose of this gathering, therefore, is to discuss the Information Memorandum on the Auction of this 3.5GHz Spectrum Band allocated for the deployment of 5G network in Nigeria,” the Minister said.

Telcos are expected to pay a whopping 75 billion Naira to acquire the 3.5GHz spectrum which has a duration of 10 years life span license.

Although, they have expressed concerns that the high cost of spectrum and the limited lifespan of the license could hamper the move for inclusive auctioning.

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Prof Umar Garba Danbatta, executive vice chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission, commended the Minister for the role he played in ensuring the smooth allocation of this Spectrum to the Commission amongst others.

He said having put in these efforts and resources to secure amongst others the contiguous spectrum in the 3.5GHz premium band with about 70 percent of 5G global deployment, that it was imperative to immediately license the 3.5GHz band in Nigeria for the deployment of 5G services.

Amongst other conditions by the NCC is that only licensees who make a down payment of 10 percent of the reserved bid price and with 100 percent regulatory compliance would be allowed to participate in the auction.

The regulator also mentioned that licensees with outstanding debts that have secured NCC’s approval for a payment plan will be allowed to participate in the auction.

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