Industry groups back MTN’s acquisition of Visafone licence, frequency
They posited that the acquisition would help to fast track Federal Government’s plan of meeting 30 per cent broadband target as the license would enable MTN to navigate the hinterland, where telephony services are yet to reach in the country.
A public forum on the matter was held in Abuja, on Monday to discuss the viability of MTN’s takeover of Visafone license and frequency in the 800MHz . The sector awaits NCC final decision on the matter.
In an industry realignment, MTN, about two years ago, had acquired 100 per cent stake in Visafone, though the transaction was approved by the NCC as required by the law, the regulatory agency later issued a statement clarifying that the transfer of the shares of Visafone to MTN did not automatically mean the transfer of the license and frequency to the mobile operator
Stakeholders, who spoke with The Guardian on the matter, however, believed that full ownership of Visafone by MTN will reposition the industry better and greater.
The President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Olusola Teniola, said the association believed that any acquisition of asset by one company licensed by NCC of another company licensed by the same regulator should follow the NCA 2003 Act to the fullest, which also state the terms and conditions for the transfer of licenses.
Teniola said in the case of MTN and Visafone, the latter agreed to sell not only its shares but assets and liabilities, and every other things to the former.
“MTN has entered into a contractual and legal understanding that they will acquire 100 per cent of Visafone, which includes its customers, licenses and other assets and liabilities.
Though, we know that MTN has now obtained 700MHz from National Broadcasting Commission; 2.6GHz from NCC, it also acquired other companies, including VGC Communications in the past, therefore this transaction cannot be treated differently from past precedents set.
So the ability for the regulator to allow this transaction to go ahead has already been set. Also Etisalat obtained 3G license from Alheri Engineering, this is not different.
So we need NCC to carry out its due function as laid down by law that there is no issue that will suggest that one operator is being treated differently from another in the market.”
The President of the National Association of Telecoms Subscribers of Nigeria (NATCOMS), Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, also went the way of Teniola, adding; “If MTN can pay the bill, the transaction should be allowed. Since MTN is willing, all that would be needed would be for NCC to regulate and monitor the industry critically to avoid any abuse.”
From his perspective, the Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, allowing MTN to acquire the license would further fuel the meeting of the 30 per cent broadband penetration target set by the Federal Government for this year.
Adebayo said that currently the industry requires consistent investment.
“As you are aware, currently, not many investors are able and willing to invest in Nigeria at this time, going by current social economic situation and the issue of recession.
FDI into the sector has been slow since the beginning of the year. Our view is that anybody who is willing to invest in this economy should be encouraged.
So, if MTN showed interest in acquiring Visafone, it should be given all the right and privileges’ associated with the acquisition and allowed use of both license and spectrum.”
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