| By Anayo Ezugwu |
THE Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, today held a stakeholders forum on licensing the 2.6GHz frequency spectrum in Lagos. This is in line with the objective of the national broadband Plan and the mandate of the NCC to promote its effective and efficient penetration in the country.
Participants which included chief executive officers of the telecom companies commission along with NCC officials and the media deliberated and suggested ways the broadband issue should be handled to attract investors.
Umar Danbatta, executive vice chairman, NCC, who spoke through Tony Ojobo, director, Public Affairs, NCC, who represented him at the forum, said it was organised to listen to the operators on how best to work on the auctioning and licensing of the 2.6GHz spectrum.
Danbatta, said the event was a follow up to the licensing of the 2.6GHz spectrum, stating the commission wants to ensure that the process for auctioning is transparent.
He said based on performance that was recorded in the last auction, the commission deemed it fit to hear from the industry operators and stakeholders who are the primary users of this spectrum on what should be done to improve the process and what other measures can be taken to expand broadband usage across the country to meet the objective of the National Broadband Plan.
“The way we carry out our process, as you are aware the commission sometime this year, auctioned spectrum 2.6 GHz and we didn’t get the kind of responses we anticipated. So, this forum today is to really get a feedback from the industry, as to why we didn’t get the kind of response we anticipated that we were going to get. And, of course, the feedback today has been very helpful and as we have said, we are going to take back these feedbacks to the commission and the management of the commission would deliberate on the feedback that we have received from the forum today and see how we can come back to the industry with our decisions.
“Our interest as the regulator in the industry is to ensure that this industry remains very vibrant with the kind of growth we have experienced in the last 15 years. And that Nigerians will continue to get the value for their money. As we speak today, we have about 97 million Nigerians on the internet. This is an indication that the data segment of this market is also growing and of course, data has become very critical for a number of organisations and persons.
“We believe that if we are able to get it right in terms of our auctioning process, getting operators to be part of it and getting quality organisations to take up this very important natural resources and begin to rollout services. We believe it’s going to impact on pricing for services and deepen competition in terms of data segment of the market. So, it’s been a very good outing and the interaction has been very promising and people have been able to express their views in terms of what they feel were the reasons why we didn’t get the kind of participation that we were supposed to get. And of course, we are going to take note of all these issues that were raised and get back to the operators.”
Also, Austine Nwaulune, director, Spectrum Administration, NCC, explained how spectrum are allocated and the need to ensure that it’s done in line with the agreed harmonisation plans of the International Telecommunication Union, ITU. He explained that the transparency is required from the commission to ensure that auctioning is done in a transparent manner.
On his part, David Venn, chief executive officer, CEO, Spectranet Nigeria, who captured the views of other operators, advocated for revenue sharing between the regulator and the licensee. He said that revenue sharing is popular in some countries in Africa. Instead of paying money upfront, he said sharing the revenue will enable the investors to come in and invest their resources. “I understand the auctioning process of the NCC because they want to do business in a transparent manner because the revenue sharing process in most cases is difficult to be transparent. I will suggest moving forward, if spectrums are still available, maybe NCC should look at the revenue sharing approach as one option.”
Other participants also pointed out that the economic situation in the country makes it difficult to attract external funding to invest in the 2.6GHz as well as get local banks to finance such project.
— Oct 17, 2016 @ 19:40 GMT