By Emeka Aginam, with agency report
After a transparent and competitive auction process, the Nigerian telecoms regulatory authority, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) , Wednesday formally declared MTN Nigeria as the winner of the 2.6GHz spectrum auction.
Accordingly, the auction process had afforded both local and foreign operators the opportunity to enjoy equal and unfettered rights of participation in line with the NCC’s desire for transparency and ensuring a level playing field for all.
It would be recalled that NCC had earlier confirmed that MTN’s bid was in full compliance with the relevant provisions of the Information Memorandum (IM) for the exercise in which MTN emerged as sole approved bidder.
The NCC has described this spectrum as a significant trigger for a broadband revolution that will unlock benefits such as greater coverage, access, affordability and innovation, with the customer at the centre of these gains.
Speaking on the new development, MTN Nigeria Chief Executive Officer, Ferdi Moolman said that, “After complying with all the requirements for the 2.6GHz auction and making the licence payment of N18.96 billion to the NCC, MTN has been issued a letter of award. With the 2.6 GHz band, we expect to roll out and provide the full range of LTE services to Nigerians, empowering Nigeria with the latest mobile broadband technology.”
According to him, “We are very pleased with this development at this time, which is a further step in the right direction for Nigeria. Indeed, MTN is fully aligned and supports the NCC’s objective to deliver broadband services to present and future generations of subscribers, in line with the National Broadband Plan of 2013.”
The 2.6GHz acquisition, he said has set the stage for the roll-out of 4G LTE broadband internet services across the country, starting in the major cities of Lagos and Abuja.
He added “This license acquisition further demonstrates MTN’s abiding faith in the future of Nigeria and the resilience of the Nigerian economy. MTN continues to believe in Nigeria and we have expressed this belief in the level of our investment, which currently stands at approximately USD 15 billion and counting. We strongly believe that there is need for significant levels of investment in broadband infrastructure and services to truly launch Nigeria into the information age. We are honoured to be the arrowhead.
“In addition, we are also delighted that the matter of the fine imposed by the NCC was amicably settled in the interest of all parties. I am pleased to announce that the first payment of N30 billion in the terms of settlement has already been disbursed to the NCC. In addition to the earlier payment of N50 billion which we paid in good faith and without prejudice on February 24, this means we have now paid a total of N80 billion.
“Our subscribers, especially those in clustered areas such as the major cities, can expect distinct improvements in browsing speed, quality and experience. This means that they will have fast access to high definition video streaming, as well as conferencing and calling, lag-free music streaming, and improved data uploads and downloads”.
As such, MTN’s success in this auction is a big boost to its plan to deliver global mobile broadband and LTE 4G services to over 60 million customers in Nigeria.
MTN also plans to use FDD networks in addition to its existing WIMAX over TDD networks, as this provides for greater consistency with existing 2G and 3G deployments.
Although Nigeria is one of 28 African countries that currently offer 4G/LTE services, the rate of penetration is restricted to a few major cities.
Meanwhile, studies by McKinsey have shown that a 10% increase in broadband penetration is associated with a 1.4% increase in GDP growth in developing markets.