Nigeria aims to auction remaining 3.5GHz 5G spectrum this year

Nigeria aims to auction remaining 3.5GHz 5G spectrum this year

Regulator the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has announced that it is planning to auction the remaining two lots of 100MHz in the 3.5GHz spectrum band to support 5G deployment in Nigeria.

As we reported at the time, the Commission carried out an auction of two lots of 100MHz TDD in the 3.5GHz band in December 2021. MTN and Mafab each acquired 100MHz lot of TDD spectrum. Airtel pulled out of the bidding after its rivals' bids passed US$270 million.

The remaining two lots now on offer range from 3400 – 3500MHz and 3600 – 3700MHz. The reserve price for one lot of 100MHz TDD for a ten-year licence tenure is fixed at US$273.6 million.

Applicants need to submit a completed application and supply the intention-to-bid deposit (IBD), by 5 December this year. There will be a mock auction on 16 December. The actual auction (an ascending clock auction) is scheduled to take place on 19 December. Once this is over winners must pay the balance minus the IBD by 20 January 2023.

However, before this happens there will be a public consultation on the draft information memorandum announcing the planned auction.

The consultation will take place on 15 November; submissions must arrive by 11 November. NCC responses will be published on its website by 18 November.

According to TeleGeography's CommsUpdate, winning bidders will be required to launch commercial 5G services within twelve months of the effective date of the licence, and coverage should reach at least two states in each of the country’s six geopolitical zones within two years.

As for why the extra spectrum is necessary, the NCC points out that broadband penetration in Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa, has increased from less than 10% in 2015 to 44.49% in July 2022. The country also has a growing population – and a young one, driving surging levels of ICT adoption, internet take-up and broadband services.

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