5G roll out in Nigeria gets boost as NCC issues final letters of licence awards to MTN, Mafab

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has confirmed the issuance of final letters of award of the Fifth Generation (5G) Spectrum Licences to MTN and Mafab Communications, winners of the 3.5 gigahertz (GHz) spectrum auction conducted by the Commission on December 13, 2021.

With the issuance of the licence, both operators are set for 5G network rollout anytime soon.

The CEO of MTN, Mr. Karl Toriola, had penultimate week, said the telecoms company had commenced 5G infrastructure rollout on its existing network nationwide and would roll out 5G services by next quarter of the year.

The Management of NCC, led by its Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. Umar Danbatta, confirmed the issuance of 5G licence to the Board of Commissioners at the Board’s special meeting, which took place on Wednesday, April 20 and Thursday, April 21, 2022 where they considered update from management on the status of the spectrum auction.

A statement issued by NCC yesterday and signed by its Director, Public Affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, read: “With the issuance of the final letters of awards of 5G spectrum and in line with the 5G auction’s Information Memorandum (IM), the two licensees are now expected to accelerate deployment of 5G network that will usher Nigeria into a more robust Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and a more digitised Nigerian economy among the comity of nations.

“In line with the terms and conditions of the 5G licence, the licensees are expected to commence rollout of 5G services, effective from August 24, 2022.”

The statement further added: “The 5G network, when deployed, will bring a lot of benefits and opportunities that will engender accelerated growth and smart living in the country.

“The technology is also expected to bring substantial network improvements, including higher connection speed, mobility and capacity, as well as low-latency capabilities.”

Following a transparent and credible auction of 3.5GHz on December 13, 2021, the National Frequency Management Council (NFMC), chaired by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami, had, on February 22, 2022, officially handed over the spectrum allocation for 5G deployment as well as the federal government-approved National Policy on 5G to the Commission.

Subsequently, the Commission had on February 24, 2022, confirmed the full payment of $273.6 million each by the two spectrum winners, in addition to spectrum assignment fee paid by MTN, for the 5G spectrum licence.

The NCC is optimistic that effective implementation of the National Policy on 5G would accelerate the actualisation of the national targets in the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025, the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030, as well as other sectoral policies designed to enhance Nigeria’s digital transformation.

While the licensees are expected to meet the timetable regarding their 5G network rollout obligations, the NCC has called for the collective efforts and support of the private-sector and government towards transforming every aspect of the nation’s economy through 5G, which it said, would herald greater transformation than what the nation witnessed with the 1G, 2G, 3G and 4G.

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