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NCC allows spectrum refarming for service optimisation


Cell towers

Cell towers

• To license broadband frequencies on 5.4 GHz band
• Claims MTN only acquired Visafone’s shareholding

As part of efforts targeted at making spectrum usage more efficient in the country, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is encouraging the refarming of various frequencies.

The NCC Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. Umar Danbatta, who disclosed this on Monday, in Abuja, said through this process, some service providers, who hitherto, providing services on the 1800 MHz spectrum band have been allowed to re-farm and deploy services on the 4G/Long Term Evolution Band.

Re-farming is reassigning government-regulated electromagnetic spectrum for services with higher value. The frequency bands are assigned to communications services that yield greater economic or social benefit.

Danbatta disclosed that through re-farming, the commission has been able to revive some of the companies whose services have been hampered by the characteristics of the frequencies.

Already at a forum in Lagos, the former EVC of the commission, Ernest Ndukwe, also made a case for ‘Spectrum Trading’ in Nigeria.

Ndukwe said Nigeria was ripe for spectrum trading, stressing that so many companies have spectrum, “but they are not making use of them. So, I think Nigeria is ripe for spectrum trading, where those not in use can be allocated for other firms who need them.”

According to Ndukwe, the National Coordinator of Alliance for Affordable Internet (AA4I), spectrum allocation is a major role of a regulator and its release should be timely.

Meanwhile, Danbatta said monitoring of spectrum has been improved to ensure sanity in the industry. He disclosed that the commission has currently deployed four Anmtsu Spectrum Analysers, leading to more efficiency in Radio Spectrum monitoring.

He explained that through efficient monitoring and value-driven usage of spectrum for provision of different types of services, revenue generation for the Federal Government through frequency allocation and renewal fees improved from the previous years.

Danbatta hinted that NCC has initiated processes for licensing of more broadband services on the 5.4GHz spectrum band, which is targeted at improving wireless broadband in the country.

Besides, he disclosed that the commission has opened the process for the allocation of frequencies in the 70/80GHz band (E-Band), stressing that it has given approval for the deployment of 4G/LTE by NATCOM Development and Investment Limited, which has launched the first VoLTE call on February 2016.

He revealed that in the recent wireless broadband frequency bidding process for 2.6MHz spectrum by the commission, MTN Nigeria Limited emerged the winner of six slots.

The licensing of frequency in this slot, according to him, has suffered several setbacks until recently when six slots out of 14 made available by the commission, were allocated for immediate deployment of 4G/LTE services.

“By the roll out plans for this service as provided by the winner, broadband services on this frequency spectrum will be available within the last quarter of 2016.”

Meanwhile, in a bid to promote ICT innovations and investments opportunities in the country, the NCC boss said the commission approved the acquisition of 100 per cent shareholding of Visafone Communication Limited in favour of MTN Nigeria Communications Limited, “the result is that consumers who have lost services under Visafone are now regaining the services.

“We didn’t allow MTN to acquire Visafone’s spectrum to avoid some issues in the industry. Already, there is this issue about ‘Dominant Operator’, which has been attached to MTN, so it was considered that should MTN acquire the spectrum, it could unsettle the industry.

“We shall conduct a public forum on the Visafone spectrum allocation soon to avoid issues in the industry”, Danbatta stressed.

The NCC EVC added that there have been renewed efforts in the type approval of equipment through improved processing time and revenue generation.

In this article:
NCCUmar Danbatta
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