|NCC top Management team at the event|
Stakeholders in the telecom industry in Nigeria yesterday gave reasons why the well advertised auction of the 2.6 (GHz) spectrum did not attract the much anticipated attention.
This they stated at a well attended stakeholders forum organized by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) at the Lagos Sheraton yesterday.
The event which was attended by big time industry players, consumers, media executives as well as management team of the NCC was organized to look at the grey areas noticed at the auction bid and to proffer solutions on the way forward.
Most of them blamed the current unpredictable investment climate, free fall in naira value and the punitive cost of the spectrum as the major reasons.
The NCC had advertised the availability of 14 slotsi n the 2.6GHz spectrum for operators to bid for in an auction. It set a reserve price of $16milion for a slot of the frequency of the spectrum.
One lot or slot of the frequency is made up of two portions of 5megahertz (MHz).
Only MTN expressed interest in the process.The telco paid a total of $96million (N19.2billion) for the licence – a cumulative 30MHz in the 2.6GHz frequency. Disturbed by the development, NCC CEO, Prof Umar Dambatta promised to convene a forum to do a post-mortem which held yesterday at Lagos Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja.
Speaking on the occasion, its Director, Spectrum Administration, Austin Nwaulune lamented that the response to the auction process of the legacy spectrum “fell below expectation” necessitating the forum. He urged the carriers to speak out on the way forward.
Spectranet CEO, David Venn, said the process was skewed in favour of the telco that had the ‘deep pocket’, arguing that the ‘beauty contest’ model appeared to be less transparent.
He said while the success of the global system for mobile communication (GSM) revolution was driven by the influx of foreign direct investment (FDI), much more funding was needed to push broadband revolution.
He said the cost of the spectrum was on the high side, lamenting that the cost of deployment was another challenge, especially now that the investment climate has become so unpredictable. He urged the regulator to explore revenue sharing formula.
Director, External Affairs at ntel, Osondu Nwokoro said the foreign currency element of the bid price was a big challenge. According to him, some years ago, the naira exchanged for N250 to a dollar. He said it currently exchanges for N500. He urged the Commission to look into how it can provide a ‘hedge’ as it has become difficult to get forex. He agreed no less with Venn that high spectrum cost constrains roll-out.
Osondu called for the re-examination of the spectrum management policy. He urged the NCC to also take second look at the secondary spectrum market, amend the colocation rule to allow active infrastructure sharing.
Regulatory and CSR head at Etisalat, IkennaIkeme, said the telecom sector was not insulated from ongoing economic recession, lamenting that attracting local funding has been Herculean as the banking industry has also been feeling the heat. He urged the regulator to explore the use of the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) to assist the operator in this regard.
Represented by Director, Public Affairs, Tony Ojobo, the NCC CEO restated the commitment of the Commission to ensure the achievement of the 30 per cent target of the National Broadband Plan.
He said broadband penetration in the country has improved to over 20 per cent, adding that the Commission will continue to catalyse growth in the industry through consistent and predictable regulatory interventions.
At the end of the interaction, the NCC stated that all the views expressed will be taken to the management team of the Agency for deliberations and a concrete plan put in place for further auctions.