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Telcos kick as MTN requests for second 5G licence

Operators in the telecommunications sector have objected to MTN’s request to be allowed to participate in the upcoming 5G licence auction in December 2022.

A spokesperson for MTN Nigeria at the Stakeholders Engagement on the Draft Information Memorandum (IM) on 3.5GHz Spectrum Auction said the company had entered the last auction in 2021 with the expectation that it is an open market and it would be allowed to participate in other auctions should the need arise.

MTN won Lot B in 2021 and what NCC is currently auctioning is Lot A and C. The position of the telco is that OEMs that manufacture the 5G equipment often produce for two lots, either A and B or B a C. The telco says having a licence for two lots provides it with the necessary equipment it requires for effective deployment and it makes the cost of the service cheaper for consumers.

However, the representatives of telcos like Airtel and others said it goes against the spirit of competition in the market for one telco to hold more than once licence when other players are yet to get any of the licence.

Nigeria has four 5G licences. So far 2 of these licences have been auctioned although only one licences has launched the service commercially.

Ubale Maska, Executive commissioner, Technical Services, NCC said MTN’s request isn’t a first in the telco industry as there are precedents and Nigeria is an open market. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman of NCC said all requests will be given due consideration and final feedback made before the auction.

The EVC said more comments are invited and the auction process isn’t to generate revenue for the government. “The motive is not to generate money for the federal government.

It has nothing to do with the revenue we are going to generate. The price was determined by the last auction. We will always make reference to the reserve price no matter when the auction was had,” Danbatta said.

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