Three network operators, MTN, Airtel, and Mafab Communications, have emerged as bidders for the 3.5 GHz spectrum for 5G deployment. The three companies will battle for the two lots of 3.5GHz spectrum, which the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has scheduled to hold December 13, 2021 in Abuja. The operators were able to beat the deadline for the Expression of Interest (EoI) to bid for the country’s 3.5GHz spectrum licence, which closed on Monday, November 29 by 5pm. Sources from within the telecom companies disclosed that the three companies had met all the pre-bid criteria, which include payment of a non-refundable 10 per cent of the reserve bid price.
The Commission in the Information Memorandum (IM) for the spectrum auction had fixed N75 billion as the reserve price. With this, each of the three operators pre-qualified for the bid have paid N7.5 billion each as initial deposit, amounting to N22.5 billion. While MTN and Airtel are old players in the market, Mafab Communications will be coming as a new player, if it succeeds in the auction.
According to the IM, “to qualify to bid in the Auction, the Applicants will not have to be Licenced Network Operators in Nigeria. “However, any successful Bidder who does not have a Unified Access Service Licence (UASL) will be granted one upon payment of the specified fee. The tenure for the UASL will be Ten (10) years, subject to renewal.”