Court halts 2.3GHz licence auction

28 Oct 2009

Nigeria’s Federal High Court has stopped the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) from re-auctioning spectrum in the 2.3GHz frequency range, local daily Times of Nigeria reports. The court ruled that the process must be put on hold pending the determination of a lawsuit initiated by the previous winner of the spectrum, Mobitel. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, Mobitel, Spectranet and fixed-wireless operator Multilinks beat off around 40 other applications for slots in the 2.3GHz band after each of them paid NGN1.368 billion (USD9.33 million) in May 2009 for the frequency used to support to WiMAX technology. Later that month, Minister of Information and Communications, Dora Akunyili, issued a directive for the cancellation of the licensing and the implementation of a new auction, after operators faulted the commission on how the whole process was conducted, especially the one week timeframe given to pay the necessary fees. Mobitel, alleging contractual breach, has challenged the government’s position in court, saying it had fulfilled the requirements. The matter will be heard in court on 17 November 2009.