By Emeka Aginam
Those who think that Nigeria will not have broadband penetration across the country in the near future should better have a rethink. Basking on the euphoria of the planned auction of the 2.6GHz spectrum at $16m per slot and the release of auction time table last week in Lagos, the Nigerian Communications Commission, has said that the road to broadband boom in the country is very close.
The Director, Spectrum Administration of the Commission, Engr. Nwaulume Augustine in a press conference in Lagos last week promised that the Commission would fast track the nation to digital economy, adding that the contributions of broadband to Gross Domestic Product would increase considerably.
He however reminded that for Nigeria to be part of the 21st century knowledge economy, there was need to leverage on the potentials of broadband.
According to him, a total of 14 slots are open to interested operators within and outside the shores of Nigeria.
He said that the spectrum could be used to provide any telecommunications services and is offered by the Commission on a technology neutral basis.
For roll out of services on the spectrum, he said the commission will follow the international telecommunication Union, ITU, recommendation, setting aside spectrum in the 2.6GHz band for the provision of advanced wireless broadband services.
The spectrum slots won by each bidder during the auction, he said would be assigned on a nationwide basis covering all the states of the federation and Federal Capital Territory.
He warned that operators will be sanctioned for not rolling out services in record time, adding that for the purpose of enforcing the ‘’use it or lose it’’ clause, a license will be issued in each state of the federation as well as for the FCT to each wining bidder. “Each winner who does not currently hold a Unified Access Service License (UASL) which is the operational license will be issued one at an additional fee of three hundred and seventy four million, six hundred thousand naira, N374,600,000.00)”, he further explained.
It would be recalled that the Commission had on February, 25, 2016 published invitation stage and also published intention to auction last month.
Indicative timetable: Giving details of the indicative timetable, he disclosed that April 29, 2016 will be the end of application and payment of mandatory intention to bid deposit.
Pre-qualification stage: By May 6, 2016, according to him, NCC will notify qualified bidders with notification of mock auction, auction date and publication of mock auction. Auction stage: He said that by May 16, 2016, the Commission will conduct mock auction while the auction proper will be conducted between 17th and 19th of May, 2016.
According to him, grant stage will hold on May, 20th , 2016 while publication of provisional winners, notification of provisional award of license will be June 10, 2016. By June 13, 2016, winners will be expected to pay for the licence while June 13, 2016 will be the date for the publication of final result, he said.
According to him, applicants must be a company registered in Nigeria with Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, and must be independent from all other applicants under this allocation.
Similarly, he informed that applicants must transfer 10 percent of total bid price as intention to bid deposit, adding that licensed operators participating in the auction process scheduled to hold on May, 2016 in Abuja must fulfil all existing obligations to the Commission including payments for annual operating levy, spectrum and national numbering plan fees prior to the pre-qualification auction date which has been fixed for 17th of May, 2016 in Abuja
The auction process: “There are total of 14 slots. If the bidders exceed 14, they have to go into auction but when they do not exceed the number, they will be allowed to pay generic reserve price of $16 million”, he explained. He said that the spectrum is considered to be valuable national resource for which commercial opportunities exist.
The reserve price for a ten year license, according to him is dependent on the generic reserve price and the number of lots applied for by an applicant determined by the intention to bid deposit, IBD, paid. “The generic reserve price (GR) is the minimum price at which a lot shall be sold, which is the reserve price for one Lot of 2x5MHz and has a value of $16 million .
“Each Lot represents one eligibility point. An applicant that applies for and pays the IBD for six Lots will have a total of six eligibility points.