The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has faulted publication by BusinessDay newspaper of Thursday, December 2, 2021, which claimed the commission moved the 5G deadline after only MTN submitted bid.
A statement by the NCC’s director of public affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde debunked the claim by the publication that “the commission was forced to move the November 24 deadline for the submission of the bid and payment of the 10 per cent fee of $20 million after it emerged that only MTN Nigeria had complied with the requirement”.
Refuting the allegation, the statement said the Nigerian Communications Commission maintains an unimpeachable record and reputation based on precedents of open-and-transparent spectrum auctions over the years, which earned it local and international recognition.
Listing activities carried out by the commission as part of the regulatory processes leading to the auction of the 3.5GHz spectrum, it recalled that the commission had carried out the following activities:
▪ October 7, 2021. The commission exposed the draft Information Memorandum (IM) on the auction of the 5G spectrum on its website (www.ncc.gov.ng) and issued a public notice through major print, electronic and broadcast media. Comments on the draft IM were received by the commission, until October 28, 2021.
▪ On November 3, 2021, the commission held a stakeholders’ engagement forum in Lagos where comments from a broad segment of stakeholders, including major operators, were exhaustively discussed and considered.
▪ On November 10, 2021, the commission published the final IM and stakeholders’ comments on its website and national dailies and set the deadline for the submission of bids on Wednesday, November 24, 2021.
▪ On November 23, 2021, just a day before the deadline for the submission of bids, Air Traffic Controllers went on strike, disrupting flights operations in Lagos.
▪ As a responsive regulator and following concerns expressed by industry stakeholders and potential bidders for the 5G Spectrum about the possibility of meeting the deadline due to flight disruptions, the commission, relying on the provision of the IM, announced an extension of the deadline from Wednesday, November 24, 2021, to Monday, November 29, 2021.
▪ Indeed, on November 23, 2021, MTN communicated to the commission via mail, indicating its concerns about the air traffic controller’s strike and how it could impede the timely submission of its bid.
▪ On December 1, 2021, the commission announced that, at the close of bids’ submission on November 29, 2021, three companies (MTN Nigeria, Mafab Communications Ltd and Airtel Networks Ltd) had submitted their bids as required by the IM.
▪ The public also needs to know that all three bidders are existing licensees of the commission in different license categories.
The commission debunked the ‘Business Day’ story, said it was replete with misinformation capable of misleading industry stakeholders, the public and undermining the integrity of the auction process of the 5G spectrum.
“For instance, the publication alleged that Mafab Communications is a relatively unknown operator in the industry, suggesting that it was not eligible to bid for the spectrum. The IM stipulated that new entrant in the industry can participate in the bid. If they are successful, they will be issued an operating license in line with the provisions of the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) 2003 and its licensing regulations,” it said.
The statement maintained that the commission is guided by its principle of fairness, firmness and forthrightness.
He assured Nigerians that it is determined to ensure the successful implementation of the 5G Auction spectrum, which is set to take place on December 13, 2021.