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FG to pocket N227bn as MTN, Mafab win 5G licence

Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has declared MTN Nigeria and Mafab Communications winners of the two slots of the 3.5GHz spectrum auction for the Fifth Generation…

Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has declared MTN Nigeria and Mafab Communications winners of the two slots of the 3.5GHz spectrum auction for the Fifth Generation (5G) network licenses for a total fee of $546m or N226.6 billion at  N415/$ exchange rate.

The bids ended at $273 million for each, according to Professor Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman, NCC and overseer of the auction

This came after nearly eight hours and 11 rounds of auctions which began at $199.37 million as against the reserve price of $197.4 million.

MTN Nigeria, Airtel Nigeria and Mafab Nigeria Communications Ltd participated in the live auction held at Hilton Transcorp Hotel, Abuja.

The surprise bidder was Mafab Nigeria Communications Ltd, a  new entrant in the telecommunications sector in Nigeria.

Mafab Communications, led by Alhaji Musibau Bashiru, was licensed in July 2020, as an International Data Access (IDA) by the NCC.

Each auction in the first six rounds lasted 20 minutes and none of the bidders backed down as the price steadily moved up using the ascending clock auction format.

In the second five rounds, the bidders were given 10 minutes each to put up their bids.

At the end of the 11 rounds which ended at 7.20 pm, the bid per slot was $275, 904,886.25.

Earlier in his speech before the commencement of the auction, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami said the government of President Muhammad Buhari had already made a number of giant strides in the development of digital economy and the deployment of 5G networks will further support our efforts.

Pantami said the World Health Organization (WHO) and International telecommunications union issued their verdict confirming the safety of 5G and that it has no health implications. 

He said the pronouncement  provided the grounds for nations to be proficient in 5G deployment 

“Nigeria has the largest digital economy in Africa, largest telecommunications and broadband subscribers. By 2022 we will have the largest 5G coverage in Africa. 

“We tried to study the 5G and see how we can maximize the benefit. It will go a long way to support the solution towards the security challenges in Nigeria because Will provided avenue for the security institution to leverage the technology. 

“You need big data analytics, internet of thing, robotic. All these is not possible without 5G

At the top of our agenda is to support our security institutions 

He said in today’s world,  digital technology is not about socialization but the key enabler of other sector. It sustain the financial sector. 

The NCC board chairman, Prof Adeolu Akande, said the main objective of the auction was not just the offer of a premium frequency, it was also aimed to support the deployment of 5G in Nigeria, which has been identified as a critical factor for the growth of the national digital economy. 

Akande said the two sloth of spectrum will be offered based on the highest valuation of the spectrum on offer through a transparent and competitive process.

He said 5G is a critical factor for the growth of  a nigerian digital economy.

The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof Umar Garba Danbatta said the auction was based on the powers bestowed on the Commission by Section 121 of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 as well as the Licensing Regulations 2019.

Danbatta said the auction  will herald a new era of mobile technology deployment.

He said: “We committed ourselves to deepen broadband penetration to support government economic diversification agenda.”

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