Nigerian regulator readies for 5G spectrum auctions

Nigerian regulator readies for 5G spectrum auctions

The Nigerian Federal Government has raised an 18-member team to map out plans for Nigeria's 5G spectrum auctions following the Senate clearance over public health concerns.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says it has inaugurated a committee to develop the Information Memorandum (IM) for the auction of 3.5 GHz spectrum for early deployment of 5G services.

NCC took the “major proactive regulatory step” after a Senate investigative hearing that gave 5G technology “a clean bill of health”, Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) and Chief Executive Officer of NCC said.

Speaking during the inauguration, Umar said, apart from developing the IM for auctioning of C-band spectrum for 5G deployment in Nigeria, the Terms of Reference (ToR) of the committee will include the development of an award process to be used pursuant to which the grant of Spectrum licenses may be made.

The Information Memorandum (IM) defines the process that the Commission has decided to adopt for the auctioning of the 3.5GHz spectrum band. It will provide information on the Nigerian telecommunications market, details of the Spectrum to be made available, the pre-qualification process, the Auction process, and an indicative timetable.

While expressing delight at the current stage of the 5G deployment process in Nigeria, especially concerning established mutual understanding among stakeholders that 5G service poses neither security nor health risk to users, Umar said the outcome of the work of the Committee is a major step towards realisation of 5G services in Nigeria.

He, however, stated where NCC desired premium spectrum like the 3.5GHz with good propagation characteristics suitable for capacity and coverage with good device ecosystem but did not have sufficient allocation, "we put in extra efforts and secured additional 160MHz in the 3.5GHz band by making the huge commitment of resources to secure additional Spectrum from Nigerian Communication Satellite Limited (NigComSat)," culminating in a recent Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between NCC and NigComSat.

"Having put in these efforts and resources to secure, amongst others, contiguous Spectrum in a premium band like the 3.5GHz band that is being adopted as the best Spectrum for early deployment of 5G with about 70% of 5G global deployment so far, it has become imperative to immediately re-purpose the 3.5GHz band in Nigeria for auction per best practices.

The report, however, noted that 3G would remain the dominant tech on the continent – with a share of over 40% of mobile subscriptions in 2026. It predicted that 4G would grow to be about 28% of the region’s subscriptions by 2026.

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