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Jonathan: Winner in 2.3GHz spectrum auctions to pay N374.6m extra

By The Citizen
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President Goodluck Jonathan has approved that an extra three hundred and seventy four million, six hundred thousand naira (N374.6m) licence fee will be paid by the winner in the upcoming 2.3GHz spectrum auction that will usher in the sole provider of wholesale broadband services in Nigeria.


'A successful bidder without a UASL license will be issued a WWASL license upon payment of the specified fees, NCC says underscoring that it will also not allow the eventual winner to forge an alliance with an existing unified access licensee, a development that will mean not shelling out the N374.6m licence fee. According to market updates obtained from NCC by Technology Times, 16 companies have so far been issued unified access licences including three of the big four GSM networks as well as companies linked with big businessmen like Aliko Dangote, President of Dangote Group; Visafone Communications owned by Jim Ovia as well as Smile Communications jointly-owned by Irene Charnley, ex-Director of MTN Group and Arab investors.


The telecoms industry regulator recently pegged a N3.6billion ($23m) reserve price for the single spectrum being offered for sale as part of a Presidential Broadband Plan to promote diffusion of high-speed Internet services across the country.


According to the pre-auction clarification obtained from NCC by Technology Times, the winner of the spectrum will also be required to obtain a Unified Access Service License (UASL) which the telecoms regulator has valued at N374.6 million, as a precondition to becoming the wholesale broadband service provider.


Attention has shifted to Abuja where the telecoms regulator says the joint bouquet of the N374.6 million Unified Access Licence (UASL) and the Wireless Wholesale Access Service Licensee (WWASL), which will be sold in the imminent Abuja bids will speed up broadband development for the country.


There is catch though. If the winner currently has a UASL, it will be able to save the extra N374.6 million. If it does not, it will not be allowed to piggyback on any existing holder of the same licence, according to the telecoms regulator, which has thrown the bids open to existing telecoms licensees and new entrant companies that are duly registered under Nigerian laws


'A successful bidder without a UASL license will be issued a WWASL license upon payment of the specified fees, NCC says underscoring that it will also not allow the eventual winner to forge an alliance with an existing unified access licensee, a development that will mean not shelling out the N374.6m licence fee.


According to market updates obtained from NCC by Technology Times, 16 companies have so far been issued unified access licences including three of the big four GSM networks as well as companies linked with big businessmen like Aliko Dangote, President of Dangote Group; Visafone Communications owned by Jim Ovia as well as Smile Communications jointly-owned by Irene Charnley, ex-Director of MTN Group and Arab investors.


Unified Access licensees include Starcomms Limited, Danjay Telecomms Ltd, Prest Cable & Satellite TV Systems Limited, MTN Nigeria Communications Ltd and Multi-Links Telecommunications Limited. Others include Gicell Wireless Limited , Intercellular Nigeria Plc, Celtel Nigeria Limited, Siotel Nigeria Limited and Gamjitel Limited.


The list also includes Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services Ltd, Visafone Communications Limited, Reliance Telecommunications Limited, Alheri Engineering Co. Ltd., Smile Communications Nigeria Limited and Megatech Engineering Limited.


NCC also says that with the emergence of the wholesale broadband provider, undersea cable companies that currently provide both wholesale and retail broadband services in the market will be made to adhere to licence restrictions.


'The submarine cable infrastructure and landing station licensees will continue to provide their services based on their license conditions. The WWASL licensee may be a subscriber of the submarine cable infrastructure and landing station licensees for bulk International bandwidth. They are playing in different segments of the market', the regulator says.


NCC has also conceded that bidders can pay in Naira in the dollar-denominated frequency spectrum sale. The regulator provided two accounts, one in Guaranty Trust Bank PLC and Zenith Bank PLC, where bidders hoping to pay in Naira can deposit their funds while adding that, 'companies that wish to pay in Naira should pay the naira equivalent of the designated amount at the prevailing exchange rate for the date of payment.'  Technology Times