MTN, Mafab Communications emerge winners of 5G spectrum auction

December 13, 2021
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By Chinenye Anuforo and Adanna Nnamani, Abuja

 MTN Nigeria and Mafab Communications Limited have been awarded the slots for the 5G spectrum in an 8 -hour auction by the  Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

MTN a Nigerian telco giant emerged with Mafab Communications Ltd, which was incorporated in 2020 and licensed by the Nigerian Telecommunications Commission to operate Local Interconnect and international carrier services.

The auction, which took place on Monday, December 13, at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, was done using the ascending clock auction system.

The three qualified bidders for the 3.5 GHz spectrum, includedMTN Nigeria, Mafab Communications Ltd and Airtel Networks Ltd, participated in the software-based simulated auction exercise.

The reserve price per lot was initially set at $197,400,00 but was raised repeatedly by the auction manager, reaching $275,904,886.25 at round 11 — with Airtel dropping off.

The bidding process then moved to the assignment stage.

The assignment stage is an auction mechanism to resolve any such conflicts and where the winning bidder (s) will specify the date for the payment of the upfront fee.

At the assignment stage, MTN offered $15,900,00 and was assigned lot one, while Mafab offered $11,120,000 and awarded slot two at no extra cost. the first slot (spectrum) is 3500-3600mhz while the second slot is 3700-3800mhz.

The two winners are expected to pay by February 24, 2022, at the prevailing exchange rate.

At the opening of the 3.5GHz auction at the Abuja Transcorp Hotel yesterday morning, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy,  Dr. sa Pantami, had stated that 5G networks offer significant advantages over current technologies. Some of its advantage include much lower latency, higher bandwidth, greater a device density longer battery life for nodes and greater network flexibility.

For his own part, the Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission, Umar Garba Danbatta, explained the auction represents a culmination off all the efforts at the international and national levels that have prepared Nigeria tor this momentous leap forward.

“Therefore, in line with the 5G Deployment Policy and global best practices, the Commission has set in motion the process for the auction and will be offering two (2) lots in the 3.5GHz band with three (3) companies competing to acquire a licence for the available lots.

The auction is based on the powers bestowed on the Commission by Section 121 of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 as well as the Licensing Regulations 2019.”

Adeolu Akande, Chairman, Board of Commissioners, Nigerian Communications Commission,  stated that auction was not just the offer of a premium frequency, but also aims to support the deployment of 5G in Nigeria, identified as a critical factor for the growth of the national digital economy.

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