Nigerian operators concerned about banks and spectrum

Nigerian operators concerned about banks and spectrum

Nigeria’s Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) is having a  busy week already, with the industry association expressing concerns about unpaid bank debts and the cost of spectrum licenses.

Local press reports indicate that, despite news in September that the impasse surrounding the N120 billion (US$156.7 million) USSD debt owed by banks to operators had been resolved, operators have once again threatened to withdraw their USSD services as banks seem to be stalling on payment.

Chairman of ALTON Gbenga Adebayo seems now to be suggesting that withdrawing the services and taking the issue to court might be the only feasible answer. 

ALTON has also been involved in recent requests by Nigerian service providers that the licencing system and pricing methodology for 5G spectrum be reviewed.

Bosun Tijani, Nigeria’s new minister of communications, innovation, and digital economy, seems to want to encourage operators to find ways of reaching users in rural areas. However, the operators are more focused on 5G spectrum distribution, claiming that the current approach is expensive and has become unsustainable for the innovation required for 5G services.

According to ITWeb Africa, Gbenga Adebayo has stated that the communications minister must work with the NCC "to set more affordable prices for spectrum while taking into account the developmental benefits improved broadband delivery will have on our local economy, especially since studies have shown that high spectrum prices are associated with slower broadband speeds and poor coverage”.

He also argued that the adoption of flexible spectrum licence payment terms will be in line with the recommendations of the Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020-2025, which will allow operators to spread payments of spectrum costs.

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