NCC rejects Airtel’s request for 5G licence at $273.6m

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has rejected the request of Airtel Nigeria to grant it administrative assignment of spectrum to provide services in the fifth generation (5G) in the country.

Airtel Nigeria made the request at the stakeholders’ engagement on the draft information memorandum (IM) on the auctioning of additional two slots of 100MHz in the 3.5GHz band, at Mariot Hotel.

The telecommunications firm said the NCC should set aside a slot of the 3.5GHz spectrum for it at $273.6 million which was the price the commission sold the last two slots in November 2021.

But the NCC argued that Section 124 of the Nigerian Communications Act has already set out the process to assign licences.

“Our reserve price was set after necessary benchmarking. We arrived at some idea of what the price should be. The auction determined what the actual price should be. If we have only one party interested that will determine the price. If the reserve price throws up a higher price, that new price becomes the new price,” said Ubale Maska, executive commissioner, technical services, NCC.

The second largest telecom in Nigeria had participated in the 5G auction of 2021 in which it lost to Mafab Communications and MTN Nigeria both of which bid $273.60 million to defeat Airtel’s final bid at $270 million.

Airtel said the slot should be reserved for it as an administrative assignment for participating in the 2021 auction.