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NCC offers 70/80 GHz spectrum band


THE need to further deepen broadband penetration in the country and aid ubiquitous Internet access has prompted the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to consider another frequency licensing in the 70/80GHz spectrum band.

The NCC, which lamented that the 70/80 GHz spectrum band was yet to be fully explored and exploited in Nigeria, noted that every spectrum bands that is available globally are used diversely.

The commission, yesterday, in Lagos at the ‘Stakeholders Forum on 70/80GHz Band: Spectrum Plan and Licensing’ began industry-wide consultations preparatory to the licensing of the 70/80 GHz spectrum band

Indeed, the 70/80 GHz band (widely known as the “e-band”) is available throughout most of the world for high capacity point-to-point communications. The E-band provides a cost effective alternative for high-speed network backhaul applications.

While seeking industry stakeholders’ input for the final draft towards the licensing, which is planned for end of second quarter, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Dr. Eugene Juwah, represented by Alhaji Mustapha Bintube, an Executive Commissioner at the commission, said beyond the usage and applications lie the critical part, which is how to share resources for the common good of the investor community, the service provider community and the consumer of services community.

Shedding more light on the spectrum band and its licensing, the Director, Spectrum Administration and Control, Austin Nwalune said the National Frequency Management Council (NFMC) had allocated 71-74 GHz/81-84 GHz spectrum bands to the commission, which by so doing makes available a total of 3GHz out of the available 5GHz bandwidth Frequency Division Duplex (FDD).

Nwalume said the plan is to create opportunities; possibilities and good quality services, which will provide avenue for individuals and corporations to deliver broadband to customers at affordable price and very fast.

According to him, the band can cover an average distance of 1.5 Km and spanning to four Km or more, stressing that the result of trial conducted by a vendor in Nigeria showed that the E-band business case is both technically and commercially feasible in Nigeria.

According to him, the country needed the band to among others, bridge the last mile gap between fiber backbone and commercial buildings not easily accessible by fiber; help redundant networks, among others.

Some of the benefits of the spectrum, according to Nwalune, include aiding socio-economic benefits through the enhancement of broadband service delivery; ease the pressure on the Microwave bands.

While informing that the commission had settled for a Light Licensing Model, Nwalune explained that this is an operator specific frequency license, that regulator may or may not be responsible for planning, coordination and protection but must provide low pricing mechanism and data base for registration of users.

“Having considered the need for the band, the radiation propagation characteristics and the licensing models across the globe, the commission has decided to adopt “Light Licensing Model” for Nigeria”, he stated.

He informed that the pricing would cost would be licensee N14, 400 ($72) per hop per annum in Nigeria, stressing that in UK, it cost E50 (N15, 064); United States $75 (N14, 85)); Australia AU$187 (N28, 847), stressing that the recommended price is reasonable and therefore the factors are appropriate.

Speaking at the forum, the President of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Company of Nigeria (ATCON) Lanre Ajayi, said the band would further aid broadband penetration in the country, stressing that it should not be compared to the likes of the 2.3GHz, the GSM licensees or the planned 2.6GHz auction, but that this would further move the sector forward.

By the proposed plan, there is 2.875GHz bandwidth in each of the uplink and the downlink, as well as guard band of 125 MHz at both ends of the bands.

Further findings on the need for the E-band licensing in Nigeria by the NCC, was that advances in mobile broadband has changed consumer habits with mobile web surfing, emailing and other advanced data services becoming routine; mobile broadband is leading to a dramatic exponential increase in the traffic/data capacity.

Others are that the cellular networks worldwide are experiencing an overwhelming growth of mobile subscribers that is leading to an ever-growing capacity in demand and that from the global trends, mobile operators worldwide are turning to the E-band spectrum, especially the 71-76GHz, 81-86GHz bands to enhance and streamline their backhaul options.

Studies have shown that apart from the fact that the 70/80 GHz E-band is highly directional, it supports an extremely high degree of frequency reuse; requires minimal frequency coordination, which allows links to be deployed close to one another without interference.

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