The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has finally officially declared the date on which it will auction the 3.5Ghz spectrum for the deployment of 5G technology in the West African country.
Currently, the auction is expected to be held on 13 December 2021 and, according to the Information Memorandum (IM), seen by TechNext, presented by the NCC at a stakeholders engagement forum held in Lagos recently, the reserved price for the spectrum has been started at $197.4-million.
At the auction, bidders can win a 10-year 5G spectrum license but must have an operational Universal Access Service License (UASL) as a minimum requirement for bidding. New entrants or licensees without a UASL will be required to obtain one to qualify for the 5G license.
The NCC said via the IM that only licensees who make down payments of 10% of the reserved bid price and with 100% regulatory compliance will be allowed to participate in the auction. Licensees with outstanding debts will also be allowed to participate, provided they secure the NCC’s approval for a payment plan.
Within the 10-year span of the license, eventual licensees will be given a rollout obligation plan beginning from the date of award of the license. Operators will be expected to rollout 5G services in at least one state in Nigeria between the first and second year of the license.
The rollout plan obligates operators to cover all geo-political zones in the country from the third to fifth year. Between six to 10 years, operators are expected to cover all states in the country with 5G technology.
A Lengthy Approval Process
While contemporaries like Kenya and South Africa already enjoy the super-fast internet speed and connectivity provided by 5G in some areas, Nigeria has lagged due to regulations and a bloated spectrum auctioning approval process. In July 2021, Nigerians were still waiting on the Federal Government to approve the technology’s deployment even as the NCC claimed it was ready for the rollout.
Approval finally came in September, but now Nigerian users will have to wait until the spectrum auction is held and completed with the government expecting to rollout 5G in January next year once respective operators have licenses.