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Again, govt postpones 2.6GHz spectrum auctions ‘until further notice’



Dr. Eugene Juwah,

THE Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), on behalf of the Federal Government, has again shifted the planned 2.6GHz spectrum auctions “until further notice”. No reason was given for this new development. Announcing the shift in a statement posted on its website, the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, NCC, Dr. Eugene Juwah, gave no reason for the second postponement.

In the statement titled: “Postponement of 2.6GHz Frequency Spectrum Auction”, Juwah said: “The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria, regrets to inform parties interested in participating in the Auction of Frequency Spectrum Licenses in the 2.6GHz band that it has decided to postpone the process of the Auction until further notice.

By this announcement, the 2.6GHz indicative auction timetable is suspended. We regret any inconvenience caused by this suspension.” NCC’s shift of date comes just days after the telecommunications watchdog resumed the process that was suspended in November 2014. Government has offered 14 licences at N130.5 billion in the fresh 2.6GHz spectrum auctions that was planned to hold May 5-8 in Abuja.

Prior to the latest shift, the auctions rules released by NCC stipulate a reserve price of N3, 184,800,000.00 ($16,000,000) per slot for the 14 available licence to enable winners provide broadband services across the country. The available slots of 14 licences totaling N130, 576,800,000 will be enable the winners to offer broadband services across the country, under a government plan to offer impetus to diffusion of high-speed Internet services in Nigeria.

NCC had earlier released the Information Memorandum (IM) detailing rules for the postponed 2.6GHz spectrum auctions a while back to resume the process suspended in November 2014 over what the agency cites as “administrative” issues. Prior to this week’s shift, anticipation had been high that Abuja, the nation’s seat of power will in June this year play host to bidders hoping to explore stakes in the market for broadband services across Nigeria.

According to the IM earlier released by NCC, “The proposed licensing of 2.6 GHz Spectrum has been influenced by the need to open up the space for the delivery of present and future generations of broadband services to subscribers in consonance with the Nigerian National Broadband Plan of 2013.”

NCC, which said it decided to auction the “entire 2 X 70 MHz slot available in the 2.6 GHz band to support the delivery of broadband wireless services nationally” is also assuring investors of market potentials for their stakes in the communications industry. It added that “Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa with a population of about 173.6 million people as at 2013 according to the World Bank. The population has grown at a rate of 2.3 per cent for each year from 2000 to 2013.

Approximately 60 per cent of the population is under the age of 20.” Today, Nigeria, which is home to over 125 million active mobile phone connections, is calling on stakeholders to explore stakes in the Internet market, where subscription is lower than voice and hence opens market opportunities.

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