Leadership (Abuja)

Nigeria: 2.3GHz - Mobile Operators, NCC Disagree On Licence Option

Three mobile operators and the telecommunications regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) have disagreed on the best option for the award of the remaining 2.3GHz frequency band time division duplex (TDD) spectrum slots that will help operators ease traffic encountered in moving data, voice and video on the telecommunication network.

The commission had in 2009 licenced three slots of 20MHz to three operators with two slots remaining which it now wants to licence. The three slots of 2.3GHz frequency bands were allocated to Mobitel, Spectranet and Multi-Links in May 2009 by Dr. Ernest Ndukwe led NCC.

"The commission is considering licencing the two remaining slots and has received memoranda from the three existing operators, requesting the commission to issue the slots to them instead of putting it out for public licencing. This they attributed to mutual interference experienced between them," NCC said.

In a notice posted on its website and signed by executive vice chairman, NCC, the commission said it was calling for public input prior to a stakeholders' engagement slated for March 4, 2013 on further licencing options of the two remaining 20MHz slots in the 2.3GHz band. The regulator expects stakeholders interested in submitting soft copy inputs to send them to its head office not later than February 28, 2013.

It said the major option for consideration amongst others that stakeholders may propose is public auction 1x 30 MHz to one new operator and use the remaining 10 MHz as Guard Band between adjacent slots and at the edges of the band. It said, "A call for memos on proposed licencing options, which should be technically justified, is canvassed. This should not however exclude further views which stakeholders believe are relevant."

The 2009 2.3GHZ licencing round was dogged by unilateral cancellation by the then Minister of Information and Communications, Prof. Dora Akunyili, but was restored to the bid winners who resorted to the law courts.

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