MTN, Mafab acquire 5G spectrum after 11 bidding rounds

MTN, Mafab acquire 5G spectrum after 11 bidding rounds

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The Nigerian Communications Commission(NCC) auction for its two available lots of 100 MHz TDD slots of 3.5 GHz band for the deployment of the fifth-generation network in the country has been won by MTN Nigeria and Mafab Nigeria Communications Limited in a live auction held in Abuja on Monday.

The NCC had recently approved MTN Nigeria, Mafab, and Airtel Networks Limited for the bidding process.

The three companies participated in Monday’s 5G auction and the bidding began at $199.37m, as against the reserve price of $197.4m set by the NCC.

After about eight hours and 11 rounds of bidding, the auction ended at $273.6m for each available lots, and MTN and Mafab emerged as winners.

Bidding was set at $275,904,886 for the 11th round. Airtel remained in the bidding process until the last round when it fell off.

MTN paid an extra sum of $15.9m to be assigned the preferred lot of Lot One, while Mafab was assigned Lot Two, at no extra cost. In its Information Memorandum, the commission had said it was auctioning two lots of 100 MHz each in the 3.5 GHz band ranging from 3500 – 3600 MHz and 3700 to 3800 MHz.

Mafab, led by Alhaji Musibau Bashiru, is a new entrant in the telecoms sector and was licensed in July 2020. The company has an international data access license from the NCC. The winners have until February 2022 to pay for the spectrum or lose it.

According to the commission, if the winner does not hold a Unified Access Service Licence, which is the operational license for the frequency spectrum, it needs to acquire the UASL at an additional fee of N374.6m.

The first six rounds of the auction lasted for 20 minutes and the second five rounds lasted for 10 minutes.

Bidding started at $199.37 in the first round and increased to $201.37m in the second round.

The third bidding round was ended at $204.39m. By the fourth round, it was at $209.41m, while the fifth bidding round ended at $215.78m; the sixth bidding round ended at $224.41m.

The seventh bidding round was at $231.15m; the eighth round was at $240.39m, while the ninth round ended at $251.21m. The 10th round was at $263.02m before the bidding ended in the 11th round at $275.91m. The last price for each of the 5G spectrum is about $78m above the reserve price.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, has assured stakeholders that 5G will not compromise security in the country.

Pantami had spoken earlier at the auction of the 3.5 gigahertz spectrum organised by the NCC.

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