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5G: 3.5GHz spectrum now ready for auctioning by NCC—Minister

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), Ph.D., FNCS, FBCS, FIIM, last  Thursday, disclosed that the 3.5GHz spectrum band (the lower C-band), which is not effective in satellite operations, has been recovered from NIGCOMSAT and reallocated to Nigeria Commissions Commission (NCC) for auction as part of the moves aimed at making the deployment of the 5G network a reality.
Prof Pantami spoke on ‘Theme; Deploying 5G Networks in Nigeria: The Critical Role of Stakeholders’ at the Stakeholders Engagement Forum on the Draft Information Memorandum on Auction of 3.5Ghz Spectrum Band for implementation of the Fifth Generation (5G) Network in Nigeria at Marriott Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos on Thursday, 4th November 2021.
Pantami while appreciating President Muhammadu Buhari stated that “This is yet another milestone in the desire of the Federal Government to roll-out 5G network in the country as quickly as possible. I sincerely thank His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, for his tremendous support towards this and other programs of the Ministry.
He said “the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved a National 5G Policy for Nigeria’s Digital Economy on September 8, 2021. The Policy is a 43-page document containing all the necessary information guiding the processes and procedures for the deployment of 5G technology in Nigeria. Among other mandates, the Policy stipulated is the collaboration with relevant stakeholders and provision of the required spectrum and enabling environment to ensure full deployment of 5G. This will harness the social and economic benefits that come along with it and will serve as a catalyst for the successful implementation of our National Digital Economy Development and Strategy (NDEPS) for Digital Nigeria.
“On the implementation of the Policy, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy (FMCDE), is saddled with the responsibility of developing strategies, standards, guidelines, and frameworks for the deployment of the 5G networks nationwide. Accordingly, to ensure a coordinated approach, the Commission has been directed to not only collaborate with relevant agencies under the Ministry but with all other relevant stakeholders in order to achieve the aims and objectives of the Policy”.
Pantami further said the Policy is designed and formulated to achieve many other goals, a few amongst which are:

To ensure effective deployment of 5G to cover major urban areas by 2025;
To ensure security of 5G ecosystem and the protection of data;
To ensure that international best practices and globally accepted standards and specifications are entrenched in Nigeria’s 5G ecosystem; and
To ensure that the required infrastructure needed for successful deployment of 5G networks such as data centres, power, etc, are catered for in deployment strategies of 5G networks.
“We all have a vital and specific role to play in this journey towards using 5G to support our national economic development agenda. While the Ministry, through the National Frequency Management Council (NFMC), is to supervise and provide the required spectrum. The NCC is to organize and coordinate forums like this to collate inputs from our critical partners, like you, for the success of the exercise. The 3.5GHz spectrum band (the lower C-band), which is not effective in satellite operations, has been recovered from NIGCOMSAT and reallocated to the NCC in the first instance, for deployment of 5G technology based on terms and conditions agreed by both parties.
He stated “The next step is auctioning of the spectrum which is under the purview of the regulator of the industry. However, for transparency and accountability in the sale of this common national heritage, the Federal Government thought it wise to involve relevant stakeholders in the process so that the general public is carried along.
. O.Y. Asaju, FNSE, Director, Spectrum Administration DSA Department, during his presentation on Draft Information Memorandum (IM), highlights the role of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in the exercise of its functions under the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 (the Act) has published the Draft Information Memorandum (IM) for its upcoming auction of the 3.5GHz spectrum band, as part of its 5G Technology Deployment Plan.
He said “this IM provides guidance and process that the Commission has decided to adopt for the licensing of the 3.5 GHz band, including details of the Spectrum to be made available, the prequalification process, and the Auction process.
After presenting the Information Memorandum, which provides guidance and process that the Commission has decided to adopt for the licensing of the 3.5 GHz band, including details of the Spectrum to be made available, the prequalification process, and the Auction process; here are the key take away as noticed by ITPulse’s team:

Five lots of 100 MHz each TDD are to be cleared at different periods depending on the level of encumbrances on the slots.
For the purpose of this auction, two lots of 100 MHz each are to be offered in the first phase of the auction.
Ascending Clock Auction will be used.
The auction is software based.
Provisions have been made for manual auction should the auction software fail during the auction process.
A Mock auction shall precede the main Auction.
A reserve price of approximately ₦75 billion (Seventy-Five Billion) Naira only, equivalent to One Hundred and Ninety-Seven Million and Four Hundred Thousand United States Dollars only (US$197,400,000.00) is to be used.
An Initial Bid Deposit (IBD) equal to 10% of the reserve price is adopted in line with the previous auction.
New entrants are allowed to participate in the auction in addition to existing licensees; and
Only Licensees with 100% regulatory compliance would be allowed to participate in the Auction.
Licensees with outstanding debts that have secured Management’s approval for a payment plan will be allowed to participate.
The auction comes with a 10-year Spectrum Licence and a minimum requirement of a UASL Operational Licence.
New entrants or Licensees without a UASL will be required to additionally obtain a UASL Operational Licence.
Network Operators would be required to; meet all Auction conditions as specified in the IM and carry out Periodic Penetration Testing, and Vulnerability Scan of their Networks to ensure security of the
Starting from the effective date of the licence. Rollout service in at least one State in each geo-political zone: SW, SS, SE, NC (Including FCT), NW and NE zones.
Additional 6 States other than those in Year 1 to 2, across the six geo-political zone.