Nigeria awards four unified telecoms licences

17 May 2006

Nigeria’s telecoms regulator has awarded so-called ‘unified’ telecoms licences to four local telcos, under a new system designed to further open up the sector to competition. According to a statement by the Nigerian Communications Commission it has awarded the unified licences to Multilinks, Starcomms, Intercellular, Prest Cable and Satellite Communications. The four operators will each pay NGN260 million (USD2.11 million) for the ten-year licences.

The unified licence system was introduced in February 2006 at the end of a five-year exclusivity deal given to GSM firms to operate nationwide mobile networks for which they paid $285 million. Under the new regime, operators providing CDMA services, which were previously limited by their concessions to operating in specific geographic areas, will be able to offer roaming facilities across regions. The new licences were introduced despite fierce opposition by the GSM companies, who had wanted to protect their shared exclusivity.