Airtel Nigeria’s bid for 5G network suffers setback as NCC rejects firm’s $273.6m offer
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has rejected Airtel Africa’s bid to buy 3.5GHz spectrums for 5G deployment without participating in an auction.
Airtel Africa had during a stakeholders’ meeting on Tuesday in Abuja declared its readiness to pay $273.6 million for the 5G spectrum after losing the first auction to MTN Nigeria and Mafab Communications in December 2021.
MTN Nigeria and Mafab Communications won the 5G spectrum after raising the bid price to $273.6 million, above the reserved $197.4 million.
Airtel later pulled out of the auction.
After NCC announced that it would start accepting applications for two 5G spectrum licenses, Airtel refused to participate in the exercise, stating the price would not have risen to $273.6 million if it had not joined the previous auction.
In his address at the meeting, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Umar Danbatta, said Airtel Africa’s application would not be granted because of the existing process for obtaining the 5G network.
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He said: “Following the successful auction of the initial two lots in December 2021, the Commission has received requests to administratively licence the available lots at the previous auction fee.
“However, the Commission, in line with its powers under the Nigerian Communications Act 2003, has decided to licence the available lots in the 3.5GHz band through the Auction Method which is a transparent and efficient approach that can open up opportunities for new entrants as well as deepen competition in the industry.
“The Commission has committed enormous resources to ensure that harmonized Spectrum is secured and released promptly for present and future rollout of services that will underpin the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), including International Mobile Telecommunication (IMT-2020) services.
“We have kept ourselves abreast of developments at international fora, including ITU-R Study Groups to enable the allocation of strategic Spectrum to IMT services especially the IMT-2020 which has been on the front burner in the last two ITU-R Study Cycles.
“Hence, we must ensure the timely release of the Spectrum bands necessary for 5G deployment to the industry to enable us to reap the immediate and envisaged benefits of 5G technology, and facilitate the development of Nigeria’s Digital Economy to foster national growth.”
Source: Ripples Nigeria