5G Rollout Nears, NCC Confirms MTN, Mafab Paid $547.2m

Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta

The commercial rollout of fifth-generation networks in Nigeria is drawing nearer as MTN Communications Nigeria Plc and Mafab Communications Limited complete the payment of $547.2m for their 5G spectrum licences.

The payment for the licences was disclosed on Thursday by the Nigerian Communications Commission in a statement titled, ‘3.5GHz Spectrum: MTN, Mafab Pay for Licences,’ signed by the Director, Public Affairs, NCC, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde.

MTN and Mafab paid $273.6m each to the NCC for the 5G spectrum licence.

The Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said, “I wish to officially announce that the NCC has received and confirmed payments from MTN and Mafab for their acquisition of 1 slot of 100Mhz each in the 3.5Ghz spectrum auction, which was successfully conducted by the commission on December 13, 2021. They both met the deadline of February 24, 2022, as set by the commission.

“Arising from this and on behalf of the Honourable Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, the Board and management of the NCC, I wish to congratulate the MTN and Mafab for this feat, as we look forward to accomplishing other deployment timelines in our 5G deployment roadmap, as articulated in the National Policy on 5G Networks for Nigeria’s digital economy.”

According to the commission, MTN paid an additional $15.9m, being the bidding sum, it offered at the assignment stage of the spectrum auction, to clinch its preferred Lot 1 (3500-3600 Megahertz-MHz) in the 3.5Ghz spectrum while, Mafab, which submitted a lower bid at the assignment stage, got Lot 2 (3700-3800Mhz) at no extra cost.

The National Frequency Management Council, an agency of the Federal Government, had recently handed over the 3.5GHz spectrum for 5G networks to the NCC.

With this, the commission can now hand over the spectrum to MTN and Mafab.

In its ‘Draft Information Memorandum on 3.5 GHz Spectrum Auction’, the NCC disclosed that it expects the launch of commercial 5G services in the country within 12 months after the effective date of the licence.

It added that the official date licence would begin counting after payment in February. According to the commission, the 5G will be rolled out in six states within its first two years of deployment.

The NCC said, “Within year one to two, starting from the effective date of the licence. Rollout service in at least one State in each geo-political zone: SW, SS, SE, NC (Including FCT), NW and NE.”

In its ‘National Policy on Fifth Generation Networks for Nigeria’s Digital Economy,’ the Federal Government hinted that Abuja, Lagos, Rivers, Kaduna, Gombe, and Anambra would be the first six states to enjoy 5G network in the nation.

The government said, “With the approval of this national policy, the implementation is to commence immediately to cover major cities across the different geopolitical zones of the country e.g., Abuja, Lagos, Rivers, Kaduna, Gombe, Anambra, and other states where the deployment is required and subsequently to other urban cities by 2025.”

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