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MTN Communications Nigeria (MTN Nigeria) Plc has said it was ready to roll out the fifth generation (5G) services ahead of the timeline contained in the Information Memorandum (IM) prepared by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for the 3.5gigahertz (GHz) spectrum auction last year.
In line with the terms and conditions of the 5G licence, the licensees are expected to commence rollout of 5G services, effective from August 24, this year.
Speaking in Lagos, Chief Executive Officer, MTN Communications Nigeria (MTN Nigeria) Plc, Mr. Karl Toriola said: “We are ready. We won the licence through a transparent auction process and we congratulate the NCC on this. We paid the full licence fee a month ahead of schedule. Within the information memorandum of the NCC issued, there was a timeline which indicated that we can launch in H2. We are prepared to launch on the day the IM allows us to do so and we will explore with the NCC if they allow…So we are ready, even before that timeline.”
Recall that MTN and Mafab Communication Ltd had won the two slots put on offer during the auction that had $197.4million as reserve price. As part of the auction process put in place by the Commission in the IM, the two winners and Airtel Networks Ltd had submitted bids with an initial bid deposit (IBD) of $19.74 million, representing 10 per cent of the Reserve Price of the 3.5GHz spectrum by the close of the bid submission date of November 29 last year. MTN and Mafab were required to pay the balance of the bid price of $253.86 million on or before February 24, 2022. While MTN beat the deadline, Mafab paid at the expiration of the deadline.
The NCC had issued the final letters of awards of 5G spectrum and in line with the 5G auction’s Information Memorandum (IM), the two licensees are now expected to accelerate deployment of 5G network that will usher Nigeria into a more robust Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and a more digitised Nigerian economy among the comity of nations.
The 5G network, when deployed, will bring a lot of benefits and opportunities that will engender accelerated growth and smart living in the country. The technology is also expected to bring substantial network improvements, including higher connection speed, mobility and capacity, as well as low-latency capabilities.
Following a transparent, diligent, fair and credible auction of 3.5GHz on December 13, last year, the National Frequency Management Council (NFMC), chaired by the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, had, on February 22, 2022, officially handed over the spectrum allocation for 5G deployment as well as Federal Government-approved National Policy on 5G to the Commission.
Subsequently, the Commission, on February 24, 2022, confirmed the full payment of $273.6 million each by the two spectrum winners, in addition to spectrum assignment fee paid by MTN, for the 5G spectrum licence.
The Commission is optimistic that effective implementation of the National Policy on 5G will accelerate the actualisation of the national targets in the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025, the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030, as well as other sectoral policies designed to enhance Nigeria’s digital transformation.
While the licensees are expected to meet the timetable regarding their 5G network rollout obligations, the NCC requires collective efforts and support of the private-sector and government toward transforming every aspect of the nation’s economy through 5G, which will herald greater transformation than what the nation witnessed with the 1G, 2G, 3G and 4G.