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A 2.6GHz boost to MTN's LTE strategy

By , Portals editor
Nigeria , 30 Jun 2016

A 2.6GHz boost to MTN's LTE strategy

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has declared MTN as winner of its latest auction for a ten-year frequency spectrum licence for the 2.6GHz band, which guarantees superior performance for wireless networks, especially 4G LTE services.

In a statement signed by executive vice chairman, Umar Danbatta, the NCC declared: "In line with the provisions of the Information Memorandum guiding the auction process, having paid the fees specified for 2 x 30 MHz in the 2.6 GHz Spectrum, MTN Nigeria Communications Limited has been awarded the license."

The NCC had earlier confirmed that ‎MTN's bid was in full compliance with the relevant provisions of the Information Memorandum (IM) for the exercise in which MTN emerged as sole approved bidder.

It is understood that the high cost of spectrum licence fees and high exchange rate at the time of the auction put several telcos off participating in the process.

MTN had earlier been given a 21-day deadline (starting June 13 as the date of Provisional Award) to pay the Reserve Price - less the IBD (Intention to Bid Deposit) already paid, to claim the award of 2 x 70 MHz in the 2.6GHz frequency spectrum band which was put up for auction in March or lose it as well as its IBD.

Network expansion

Earlier this month the company announced its intention to spend R11.1-billion to upgrade its network in Nigeria.

The operator says that while Nigeria is one of 28 African countries that currently offer 4G/LTE services, the rate of penetration is restricted to a few major cities.

The auction success will add impetus to its plans to tap into a potential customer base of 60 million.

MTN also plans to use FDD networks, in addition to its existing WIMAX over TDD networks, and said this provides for greater consistency with existing 2G and 3G deployments.

MTN Nigeria CEO Ferdi Moolman said "After complying with all the requirements for the 2.6GHz auction and making the licence payment of N18.96 billion to the NCC, MTN has been issued a letter of award. With the 2.6 GHz band, we expect to roll out and provide the full range of LTE services to Nigerians, empowering Nigeria with the latest mobile broadband technology."

"This license acquisition further demonstrates MTN's abiding faith in the future of Nigeria and the resilience of the Nigerian economy. MTN continues to believe in Nigeria and we have expressed this belief in the level of our investment, which currently stands at approximately USD 15 billion and counting. We strongly believe that there is need for significant levels of investment in broadband infrastructure and services to truly launch Nigeria into the information age. We are honoured to be the arrowhead."

The CEO also referred to the recent deal secured with the NCC regarding the fine imposed for failure to meet a deadline to disconnect 5.1 million unregistered SIM cards.

"In addition, we are also delighted that the matter of the fine imposed by the NCC was amicably settled in the interest of all parties. I am pleased to announce that the first payment of N30 billion in the terms of settlement has already been disbursed to the NCC. In addition to the earlier payment of N50 billion which we paid in good faith and without prejudice on February 24, this means we have now paid a total of N80 billion," said Moolman.

For Moolman, the 2.6GHz acquisition has set the stage for the roll-out of 4G LTE broadband internet services across the country, starting in the major cities of Lagos and Abuja.

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