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NCC set to auction off remaining 3.5GHz spectrum by year-end

24 Oct 2022

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has published a Draft Information Memorandum for an auction of additional spectrum in the 3.5GHz band, following the successful sale of 5G licences in that range in December last year. Interested stakeholders are invited to make written submissions by 11 November and participate in a public consultation on the draft to be held on 15 November, with the spectrum auction currently scheduled to take place on 19 December.

The regulator plans to auction off the remaining two lots of 100MHz TDD spectrum in the 3.5GHz band, ranging from 3400MHz-3500MHz and 3600MHz-3700MHz. Each lot has a reserve price of USD273.6 million, with the nationwide spectrum licences valid for ten years. To qualify to bid in the auction, applicants will not have to be an existing licensed network operator in Nigeria, although any successful bidder which does not already have a Unified Access Service Licence (UASL) will be granted one upon payment of the specified fee. The NCC has placed a cap of 100MHz as the maximum amount of spectrum that an operator can hold in the 3.5GHz band. Winning bidders will be required to launch commercial 5G services within twelve months of the effective date of the licence, and coverage should reach at least two states in each of the country’s six geo-political zones within two years.

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database states that MTN Nigeria and newcomer Mfab Communications emerged as the winners of last December’s 3.5GHz spectrum auction, after each paying USD273.6 million for one lot of 100MHz TDD spectrum. Following the conclusion of the assignment stage, MTN selected spectrum in the 3500MHz-3600MHz band for an additional USD15.9 million, and the second lot (3700MHz-3800MHz) was assigned to Mafab.