Broadband: 2.6 Ghz to boost N5.3 trillion telecoms market


OLABISI OLALEYE 08094000013, 08111813040

Nigerians have waited a long while for the much expected broadband revolution, just as they waited patiently for the telecoms liberalisation. It was with re­lief when the 2.3 Ghz was auctioned and the best bidder won some months back through a transparent procedure.

While Nigerians are still basking in this euphoria, the telecoms regulator, the Ni­gerian Communications Commission an­nounced a forth coming auction of 2.6 giga­hertz spectrum band .

This historic auction is expected to take place next month, and the regulator has said that the nation’s telecoms sector that now stand at $32 billion (about N5. 3 trillion) will benefit significantly through the deepening broadband penetration.

According to the Commission, the tech­nical details of the planned auction as con­tained in the recently released Information

Memorandum (IM), defines the process for the licensing of paired Spectrum in the 2.6 GHz band.

NCC, further stated that the auction of the spectrum will add the necessary fillip to the extant drive by the regulator to deepen inter­net penetration from its current six per cent to 30 per cent by 2018.

The planned auction is also in line with the mandate of the Commission as accentuated in the National Broadband Plan 2013-2018, approved by President Goodluck Jonathan last year and the objectives of and the Nige­rian National Broadband Plan 2013.

Commenting on the forth coming auc­tion, Director, Public Affairs, NCC, Mr Tony Ojobo, the process for the licensing of the 2.6 GHz Spectrum is predicated on demands by operators for additional spectrum to en­able the provision of Advanced Wireless Broadband services in line with international trends.

He maintained that this is also in further­ance of the objectives of the Federal Gov­ernment of Nigeria as set out in the Nigerian National

ICT Policy 2012 and the Nigerian Nation­al Broadband Plan 2013.

“Based on the positive outcome of earlier consultations with necessary stakeholders and the direction of the National Broadband Plan, the Commission has decided to under­take the 2.6 gigahertz spectrum auction to award Spectrum licenses to build and oper­ate networks in this Spectrum band to pro­vide Advanced Broadband Wireless Services to subscribers in Nigeria”.

To qualify to bid in the forthcoming auc­tion, the IM explains that the applicants may not have to be licensed network operators (LNOs) in Nigeria.

“However, any successful Bidder who does not have a Unified Access Service Li­cense (UASL) will be granted one upon payment of the specified fee. The tenure for the UASL will be 10 years, subject to renew­al,” Ojobo explained.

Explaining the technical details of the spectrum further, OJobo stated that the spectrum is offered by the Commission on a technology neutral basis, saying, however, that for roll-out of services, the Commission intends to follow the International Telecom­munication Union (ITU) recommendation setting aside spectrum in the 2.6GHz band for the provision of advanced wireless broadband services.

Subsequently, he said that the Commission will offer 14 Lots of 2 X 5 megahertz FDD paired Spectrum in the 2.6 GHz band rang­ing from 2500 – 2570 megahertz and 2620 to 2690 megahertz (totaling 2 X 70 megahertz) for auction. This will be awarded to winning Bidders in multiples of 2 X 5 megahertz lots aggregated in contiguous arrangements.

A reserve bid price of $16 million has been fixed by the Commission on each of the 14 lots in the 2.6 gigahertz spectrum with a clause that a winner of the spectrum without Universal Access Service Licence ( UASL0) will need to obtain such a licence also.

“Nigeria currently has growing levels of Internet take-up, PC penetration and broad­band adoption. The trend of Internet use in Nigeria shows an increase with the overall number of users rising from 1.4 per cent of population in 2004 to about 47.8 per cent by 2014 with Broadband penetration at about 6.1 per cent in 2013. Access to PC in Nigeria was estimated at 8.1 per cent of the popula­tion in 2013.

“It is our belief, therefore, that the success­ful auction will add the needed impetus to our drive towards democratising broadband internet services provisioning and create a truly knowledge economy where broad­band becomes an enabler of all sectors of the economy while contributing significantly to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country,” Ojobo said.

The Commission said that it would adopt the Ascending Clock Auction (ACA) with exit bids. There will be clear auction rules based on the following principles: That the licensing process will be conducted in a fair, open and transparent manner, where all par­ties participating in the auction are expected to behave in the same fashion.

“Also, the Commission reserves the right to exclude any parties that have been deemed not to have conducted themselves in this way. In addition, the Initial Bid Deposit (BD) can be forfeited under such circumstances. All bidders must abide by the auction rules or face disqualification,” he added.

Earlier in February, this year, the Commis­sion, through an auction process, awarded a frequency licence in the 2.3 GHz band to Bitflux Communications Limited. This was bundled with a Wholesale Wireless Access Service Licence.

The Commission has determined that Auction is a fair, transparent and efficient means of assigning the Spectrum. The Auc­tion of the available Lots in the entire 2 X 70 MHz block of the 2.6 GHz Spectrum band will take place in the city of Abuja in early next month at a location to be specified by the Commission.

Source : SunOnline

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