There have been protests against MTN Nigeria’s bid to be permitted to take part in the next 5G spectrum auction from telecommunications providers.
The 5G spectrum auction slated for December 19, 2022, will feature more Fifth-Generation spectrum, which the operators claim MTN intended to purchase in violation of the law.
The dispute arose during discussions on Tuesday at the Nigerian Communications Commission-organized “Stakeholders’ Engagement on the Draft Information Memorandum on the Auction of Additional 2 Lots of 100MHz in the 3.5GHz Band.”
According to Assistant Director for Technical Standard and Network Integrity Department, NCC, Edoyemi Ogoh’s presentation of the feedback received from stakeholders on the draft IM, “MTN had respectfully reiterated its prior recommendations that, in order to ensure that all the spectrum can be assigned and used efficiently, it will be appropriate to allow successful bidders in the prior auctions of spectrum in the 3.5GHz (or indeed any other spectrum band) to participate.”
“It is in MTN’s considered view that a cumulative cap of 200MHz in the 3.5GHz would be appropriate across all awards in the band.”
NCC’s response to the situation was, “Comment received. On this, further stakeholder perspectives are also required.
Responding during the question-and-answer sessions, stakeholders and operators stressed that giving MTN another 5G license would undermine the spirit of competition by making them a dominant player and preventing the growth of other players.
Ikenna Ikeme, general manager of regulatory affairs at MTN, defended the company by claiming that it entered the 2021 auction believing that it would be an open market and that it would be permitted to take part in future auctions should the need arise.
There will be more discussions on the MTN issue, according to NCC Executive Commissioner for Technical Services, Ubale Maska. The telco’s appeal was not the first in the telecoms sector, he continued, adding that Nigeria was an open market and that there were precedents.
Speaking on the subject, NCC Executive Vice Chairman Umar Garba Danbatta said that all petitions would be given careful attention and that a final decision would be taken prior to the auction.
He stated that more opinions are welcome until November 17, 2022, and that the auction procedure is not intended to bring in money 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.
The NCC, however, rejected requests from Airtel Nigeria to be given an administrative assignment of spectrum in order to offer 5G services in the nation after it took part in the previous auction.
Five 5G licenses will be distributed by Nigeria. Two have been put up for auction so far, and one, MTN, has started offering the service for sale.