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Spectrum sale adds to MTN Nigeria's pressure

Nigeria , 06 Jan 2016

Spectrum sale adds to MTN Nigeria's pressure

MTN Nigeria faces a fresh wave of challenges in the West African country with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) reportedly wanting to nullify the NGN34-billion sale of 700MHz of spectrum by the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to the mobile operator.

In September 2015 NBC Director General Emeka Mba confirmed it had licensed Nigeria's 700MHz spectrum to MTN.

The controversial sale sparked widespread reaction in the market with rival operators claiming the secretive nature of the deal excluded them from an opportunity to participate and bid.

The NBC was also accused of not securing the approval of the National Frequency Management Council (NFMC) prior to completing the transaction.

Mba said the spectrum sale was necessary to allow the commission to raise sufficient funds to pursue new digital migration targets it set since previous deadlines were not met due to lack of funds.

However, the NCC, through its Executive Vice Chairman, Prof Umar Danbatta, is claiming that the spectrum should not have been sold by NBC because it is a telecommunication spectrum that is very important for broadband deployment.

He said the commission will be seeking resolution of the matter at the Frequency Management Council.

"NCC will not publicly engage NBC, even though it is under a different ministry, because we don't think it is the right approach. The Frequency Management Council, which is a very important organ of government that has a representation from the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology as well as the Communication Technology Ministry, will look into the matter," Danbatta said in a statement issued by the commission.

MTN is yet to comment on the matter.

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