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Danbatta set up Committee on Spectrum Auction for 5G Deployment

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Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta

Following the Senate investigative hearing which gave the Fifth Generation (5G) technology a clean bill of health, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has taken a major proactive regulatory step by setting up a committee to develop the Information Memorandum (IM) for the auction of 3.5 gigahertz (GHz) spectrum band which will be used for early deployment of 5G services in the country.

The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, recently inaugurated the 18-member Committee in Abuja, with NCC’s Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, Ubale Maska as Auction Adviser while the Director, Spectrum Administration, NCC, Oluwatoyin Asaju, is the Committee Chairman.ADVERTISEMENT

Speaking during the inauguration, Danbatta said, apart from developing the IM for auctioning of C-band spectrum for 5G deployment in Nigeria, the Terms of Reference (ToR) of the committee will include the development of an award process to be used pursuant to which the grant of Spectrum licenses may be made.

The Information Memorandum (IM) defines the process that the Commission has decided to adopt for the auctioning of the 3.5GHz spectrum band. It will provide information on the Nigerian telecommunications market, details of the Spectrum to be made available, the pre-qualification process, the Auction process and indicative timetable.

Other ToRs reeled out for the committee by Danbatta include the auctioning of the C-band spectrum for 5G deployment in Nigeria in line with the award process; as well as report regularly/fortnightly to the EVC through the Office of the Executive Commissioner, Technical Services of the Commission on the progress made by the Committee.

While expressing delight at the current stage of 5G deployment process in Nigeria, especially with respect to established mutual understanding among stakeholders that 5G service poses neither security nor health risk to users, Danbatta said the outcome of the work of the Committee is a major step towards realisation of 5G services in Nigeria.

According to him, the NCC, in line with its mandate, has committed enormous resources to ensure harmonised spectrum is secured and released in a timely manner for present and future deployment of services that will underpin the fourth industrial revolution, including International Mobile Telecommunication (IMT-2020) services.

This, according to him, is in recognition of relevant provisions of the Nigerian Communication Act (NCA-2003) and its strategic plan for effective communications resource management, facilitating broadband penetration and improving Quality of Service (QoS) amongst others.

Speaking further, the EVC said the Commission had ensured the participation of relevant staff in international fora, especially in the International Telecommunication Union Radio Telecommunication Sector (ITU-R) study groups, to enable the allocation of strategic Spectrum to IMT services, especially IMT 2020, which, he said, has been in the front burner in the last two ITU-R study cycles towards World Radio Communication Conference (WRC-15 & WRC-19).

“Arising from these efforts, which include engagements with relevant governmental and non-governmental organisations during preparatory meetings at National, Regional and Continental level, we have been able to secure harmonised frequencies for 5G deployment in Nigeria,” he said.

He, however, stated where NCC desired premium spectrum like the 3.5GHz with good propagation characteristics suitable for capacity and coverage with good device ecosystem but did not have sufficient allocation, “we put in extra efforts and secured additional 160MHz in the 3.5GHz band by making huge commitment of resources to secure additional Spectrum from Nigerian Communication Satellite Limited (NigComSat),” culminating in a recent Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between NCC and NigComSat.

“Having put in these efforts and resources to secure, amongst others, contiguous Spectrum in a premium band like the 3.5GHz band that is being adopted as the best Spectrum for early deployment of 5G with about 70 per cent of 5G global deployment so far, it has become imperative to immediately re-purpose the 3.5GHz band in Nigeria for auction in accordance with best practices.

“In view of this, Danbatta said NCC Management deemed it necessary to constitute the committee with clear ToRs, adding that the committee members are expected to demonstrate strong commitment required to carry out these tasks and in a timely manner,” he said.

Meanwhile, Danbatta stated that even though some successful auctions have been conducted by the Commission in the past, “extra effort is required of us to ensure the success of this particular exercise since the 5G technology is just being adopted around the globe.”

The EVC tasked the committee to consider benchmarking its activities against other countries where 5G has been successfully deployed through successful auction of relevant spectrum band like 3.5GHz.

In his remarks, Asaju as the Chairman of the Committee, amplified the EVC’s voice on the MoU with NigComSat. Asaju stated that the Commission had, in line with the NCA- 2003, filled request for bulk allocation of 380 MHz bandwidth (3.52 – 3.9) GHz in the 3.5 GHz band from National Frequency Management Council (NFMC).

While assuring the EVC of the Committee’s readiness to deliver on its ToR, Asaju said the outcome of the actions will, no doubt, form the basis and put NCC on right pedestal for 5G deployment in Nigeria.

The Executive Commissioner, Technical Services of the Commission, Engr Ubale Maska, who doubles as the Auction Adviser, assured the EVC that the Committee will deliver on its mandate, noting, however, that work of the Committee is without prejudice to the approval of the National Frequency Management Council (NFMC), which, he said, must be in place before 5G deployment can take commence in the country.

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MTNN Launches Public Offer To Retail Investors At N169

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the telecom company informed the investing public and the Nigerian Exchange in a statement.

“Our journey to become the largest network in Nigeria has been humbling, but we still have a long way to go

Olushola Okunlade Writes

MTN Group Limited said Tuesday that it is launching a public offering for the placing of up to 575 million shares held in MTN Nigeria, which will be priced at N169 a share.

The telecom giant said this in a regulatory filing, two years after MTN Nigeria became a listed entity in the local bourse. The telecommunications company based in South Africa said the offer will open on December 1 and close on December 14, 2021.

The decision on pricing was taken via book building that lasted for a week to institutional investors, after which retail price was determined. Recall that MTN was listed at N90 2 years ago by way of introduction and the stock has gained more than double its initial opening price.

According to its filing, the minimum subscription is for 20 shares and a lot of 20 shares thereafter. MTN said the offer includes an incentive in the form of one free share for every 20 shares purchased, subject to a maximum of 250 free shares per investor.

The company said this incentive is open to retail investors who buy and hold the shares allotted to them for 12-months, post allotment date.

Commenting on the price announcement, Karl Toriola, Chief Executive Officer of MTN Nigeria Plc said, “the success of and growth of MTN is intrinsically linked to that of Nigeria and Nigerians.  Therefore, we are very excited to offer Nigerians the opportunity to own shares in MTN Nigeria”.

“Our journey to become the largest network in Nigeria has been humbling, but we still have a long way to go. There is much more to do to support the evolution of an inclusive digital economy and we continue to invest as we evolve into a truly digital operator, capable of seamlessly integrating value across evolving telecommunications, digital, and fintech segments”, Toriola added.

“With this offer, we will contribute to the further deepening of Nigeria’s equity capital markets. It is the first in a series of transactions as the MTN Group implements its plans to ensure broad-based ownership by reducing its shareholding in MTN Nigeria to 65% over time,” President and Chief Executive Ralph Mupita said.

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NCC TTTR 2021: Continuous Dialogue Critical To Tackling Telecoms Industry Challenges – Danbatta

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L- R: Engr. Bako Wakil, Director, Technical Standards and Network Integrity, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC); Mr. Yakubu Gontor, Director, Finance Services, NCC; Mrs. Tolulase Omodele-Rufai, Assistant Director, NCC Lagos Zonal Office; Mr. Adeleke Adewolu, Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, NCC; Mr. Babajika Mohammed, Director, Licensing and Authorization, NCC; Mr. Chidi Ibisi, Executive Director, Business Development, Broadband Communications Limited; Mrs. Chinwe Maduabum, 2021 Chairman Committee on Talk to the Regulator; Mr. Damian Udeh, Associate Director, Regulatory Affairs, IHS

…as Danbatta charges regulators to find lasting solutions to issues negatively impacting the licensee’s compliance

Olushola Okunlade Writes

The Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, has said that continuous dialogues between the regulator and its various licensees are central to finding lasting solutions to issues negatively impacting the licensee’s compliance with extant regulations and challenging the growth of the telecoms industry.

Danbatta stated this during the second edition of NCC’s 2021 Talk to The Regulator (TTTR) forum held at Four Points by Sheraton, Lagos, over the weekend. The theme of the discourse is, “Improving Stakeholders Satisfaction”.  

The Lagos edition of the programme followed the successful hosting of a similar dialogue in Kano on 16th October, 2021.

The objective of the forum is to get direct feedback from licensees on how the Commission, as a regulator, is meeting licensees’ expectations.

The programme was also designed to identify areas for regulatory improvement, highlight areas where licensees are defaulting as well as address critical industry challenges undermining full accomplishment of the set objectives for consolidating the gains in the telecoms sector.

According to Danbatta, who was represented at the forum by NCC’s Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, Adeleke Adewolu, the forum is orgainsed in keeping with the Commission’s commitment to continually ensure regulator-licensee interactions to develop collaborative solutions and implementation programmes to the challenges of the telecom ecosystem.

Continuous Dialogue Critical To Tackling Telecoms Industry Challenges - Danbatta
Emilia Nwokoro, Deputy Director, Licensing and Authorization Department, NCC giving her presentation on the ‘Review of Licensing Trends’.
Continuous Dialogue Critical To Tackling Telecoms Industry Challenges - Danbatta
Group picture of participants at the Talk to the Regulator Forum.
Continuous Dialogue Critical To Tackling Telecoms Industry Challenges - Danbatta
Adewolu giving the opening remarks.
Continuous Dialogue Critical To Tackling Telecoms Industry Challenges - Danbatta
Mohammed while giving his remarks at the Forum.
Continuous Dialogue Critical To Tackling Telecoms Industry Challenges - Danbatta
Mohammed; Mr. Abdulazeez Salman, Member NCC Board of Commissioners; Adewolu; Gontor.

“The Nigerian Communications Act (NCA, 2003) invests the NCC with powers and responsibilities for the regulation of both the technical and market-related aspects of telecoms infrastructure and services in Nigeria. We consider our role as a regulator very vital to ensuring industry sustainability because NCC considers consultation as the lifeblood of regulation” the EVC emphasised.

The EVC also declared that “we have consistently deployed stakeholder engagement tools like public enquiries, private investigations, written information requests, one-on-one discussions as we are having it now and diverse consumer engagement platforms.

These tools enable us to ensure that our interventions are well-grounded and that our decisions are based on a clear understanding of stakeholders’ perspectives”.

Danbatta said that such interactions fit squarely within the five pillars of the Commission’s Strategic Management Plan (2020-2024), which include Regulatory Excellence, Promotion of Universal Broadband Access, the Development of the Digital Economy, Facilitation of Market Development, and Strategic Partnering.

“Through regular interactions with our licensees, the Commission is able to gain valuable insights to enhance our regulatory output and enabled us to drive excellence in consonance with the five pillars of our strategic vision for the industry as streamlined in the Commission’s Strategic Vision Plan (SVP), 2021-2025,” he said.

Continuous Dialogue Critical To Tackling Telecoms Industry Challenges - Danbatta
Wakil while giving his presentation on ‘Short Code Assignment, Type Approval Obligation, and the Commission’s Expectations’.
Continuous Dialogue Critical To Tackling Telecoms Industry Challenges - Danbatta
Gontor giving his presentation on the ‘Implementation of Annual Levy Regulations’.
Continuous Dialogue Critical To Tackling Telecoms Industry Challenges - Danbatta
Joe Emeshili, Principal Manager, Spectrum Administration Department, NCC giving his presentation on ‘Maximising the Potentials of Telecommunications Operations’.
Continuous Dialogue Critical To Tackling Telecoms Industry Challenges - Danbatta
Olumide Samuel, Chief Executive Officer, Priority Communications Ltd asking questions at the Forum.

The EVC also reinforced the Commission’s belief that only through optional performance by the licensees will Nigeria be able to achieve the national objectives and targets in the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030, the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020-2025 and other national policy instruments targeted at developing the nation’s digital economy ecosystem.

He said on this basis that the Commission is, “Therefore, we intend to use this forum to seek support for many initiatives that the commission has carefully developed in our quest to enhance market opportunities for all our licensees,” Danbatta said to emphasise NCC’s faith in collaboration with stakeholders and its licensees in order to address any concerns that may impede the attainment of the relevant policy objectives.

The NCC CEO also emphasised that the Commission will continue to roll out forward-thinking and all-inclusive regulatory initiatives to provide market opportunities for all its licensees.

Additionally, Danbatta said NCC is also committed to constantly reviewing licensing framework as well as key regulatory instruments so as to refresh the Commission’s regulatory frameworks and ensure better service delivery for consumers and efficient attainment of other national interest objectives.

However, Danbatta said some licensees are not doing as much as they ought to be doing. “Several licensees are struggling to pay their staff, many are unable to comply with basic licence obligations, some are defaulting in the payment of their Annual Operating Levies (AOL) while the level of interconnect and other inter-licensee indebtedness is still unacceptably high.

Therefore, we are required to ensure regulatory interventions are put in place to address challenges, bottlenecks, and grievances that may arise among the licensees in this regard,” he said.

Continuous Dialogue Critical To Tackling Telecoms Industry Challenges - Danbatta
Another cross-section of participants at the Forum.
Continuous Dialogue Critical To Tackling Telecoms Industry Challenges - Danbatta
Cross-section of participants at the Forum.
Continuous Dialogue Critical To Tackling Telecoms Industry Challenges - Danbatta
Attah Ogbadu, Senior Manager, Public Affairs NCC compering the event.
Continuous Dialogue Critical To Tackling Telecoms Industry Challenges - Danbatta
Maduabum in her session ‘on what can the NCC do to ensure the survival of smaller licensees’.

Also addressing the gathering, the Director, Licensing and Authorisation at NCC, Mohammed Babajika, said the forum was intended to foster a harmonious relationship with licensees, identify their challenges and provide feedback on licensees’ fulfillment of their license obligations, and re-emphasize the role of licensees in ensuring good quality of service (QoS) and quality of experience (QoE) for the consumers.
While intimating the licensees of some regulatory initiatives focused on licensing issues, Babajika said despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and its resultant challenges, the Commission was taking measures to further liberalise the telecoms industry by finalising the framework for Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) while also reviewing existing licensing regulations.

In addition, the Director also informed the licensees that the Commission was finalising work on Information Memorandum (IM) for Fifth Generation (5G) technology deployment, which will promote emerging technology trends such as Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Over-The-Top (OTT) Services and Big Data Analytics, Blockchain, among others. 

At the event, presentations were made by the Management staff of the Commission to the licensees and others, who participated actively through listening, making observations and suggestions, as well as seeking clarifications to improve the quality of discourse and the expected outcomes. 

Continuous Dialogue Critical To Tackling Telecoms Industry Challenges - Danbatta
Titilola Edu, Assistant Legal Manager, Caricare Development Nigeria Limited asking questions at the Forum.
Continuous Dialogue Critical To Tackling Telecoms Industry Challenges - Danbatta
Emeshili; Olasumbo Olawaiya, Assistant Director, Universal Service Provision Fund.

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NCC’s Special Consumer Advocacy, “Shine Your Eyes, No Fall Mugu”, Debuts In Benin

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The Advocacy banner for the Roadshow.

…“Shine Your Eyes, No Fall Mugu”

Olushola Okunlade Writes

The Nigerian Communications Commission has again given expression to its commitment to reach all categories of telecom consumers, with the launch yesterday in Benin, of a consumer-centric outreach programme tagged, “Shine Your Eyes, No Fall Mugu”, which literally translates to, “Be alert, Don’t be a victim of fraudsters”.

An initiative of the Commission’s Consumer Affairs Bureau (CAB), the programme is specially conceived and implemented using Nigerian pidgin. It’s intended for a segment of the telecom consumer population who are more comfortable with localised communication that resonates with their reality.

The two-day programme, implemented in three phases, started with a roadshow yesterday. The Show featured local artists and comedians who displayed musical and other performances to amuse and entertain people to create awareness and sensitise telecom consumers about how cybercriminals may use telecom platforms to defraud unsuspecting members of the public.

NCC Special Consumer Advocacy SHINE YOUR EYES, NO FALL MUGU Debuts in Benin
Another stopover on the route.
NCC Special Consumer Advocacy SHINE YOUR EYES, NO FALL MUGU Debuts in Benin
Left-Right: Tunde Akpeji, Senior Manager, Consumer Information and Education; Lisu Mshelia, Principal Manager, Consumer Protection and Advocacy; Isimeme Joseph, Deputy Manager, Media and Public Relations; Dr Omoniyi Ibietan, Head Online Media, Tina Nwachukwu, Principal Manager, Consumer Protection and Advocacy; Charles Alimikhena, Deputy Manager, Special Duties; Masud Adam, Officer, Consumer Protection and Advocacy.
NCC Special Consumer Advocacy SHINE YOUR EYES, NO FALL MUGU Debuts in Benin
Entertainers on the procession.

Today, the last day of the two-day event, will feature a 20-minute radio talk in Nigerian pidgin, to further create awareness and like the roadshow, to invite telecom consumers to an enlightenment forum where presentations will be made about tricks deployed by cybercriminals to defraud people online. The presentations will also capture measures to be taken by consumers and members of the public in order not to fall victim to fraudsters who may use telecom platforms to perpetrate fraudulent acts.

Additionally, at today’s enlightenment forum, drama, audio narratives and other attractions thematised on the centrality of vigilance, alertness and caution in cyberspace by all users, will be featured.

The programme is facilitated by a local partner who supports NCC, by mobilising critical segments of the public through opinion leaders and social groups to participate in the events, in order for them to be armed with the right information they may require to explore the Internet safely. These leaders and members of the public attending the forum are expected to re-diffuse the messages to other members of the public and others in their socio-cultural groups.

This programme, coming on the heels of NCC’s National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (which occurred in October), and the annual National Cybersecurity Conference, which took place on 3rd November 2021, is meant to reinforce the messages of cyber awareness, cyber vigilance, and cyber smartness to telecom consumers whenever they are online.

NCC Special Consumer Advocacy SHINE YOUR EYES, NO FALL MUGU Debuts in Benin
The NCC partner supervising her team.
NCC Special Consumer Advocacy SHINE YOUR EYES, NO FALL MUGU Debuts in Benin
Personnel of the security governance sector ensuring orderliness.
NCC Special Consumer Advocacy SHINE YOUR EYES, NO FALL MUGU Debuts in Benin
The motorcade.

The roadshow yesterday commenced at Ekehuan Road, and the procession drove through Airport Road, to State Secretariat, Sapele Road and through the roundabout to Ring Road, to Akpakpava, Dawson Road and back to Ugbowo and Uselu Market. The motorcade, the music, the displays by artists and the underlying narration of the message of the outreach in Nigerian pidgin caught the attention of residents and passers-by who patiently listened to the messages. Information, Communication and Education (IEC) materials were also shared with the public at every neighbourhood the procession stopped to display and educate the public.

More mobilisation campaigns and awareness creation will be made during the radio component of the sensitization today, happening at Vibes Radio, 97.3 FM at 8.45 a.m. Thereafter, the Enlightenment Forum will take place at Obey God Events Centre at Nova Road, opposite Uwasota Junction, Benin.

NCC Special Consumer Advocacy SHINE YOUR EYES, NO FALL MUGU Debuts in Benin
The motorcade.
NCC Special Consumer Advocacy SHINE YOUR EYES, NO FALL MUGU Debuts in Benin
Left-Right: Tunde Akpeji, Senior Manager, Consumer Information and Education; Lisu Mshelia, Principal Manager, Consumer Protection and Advocacy; Isimeme Joseph, Deputy Manager, Media and Public Relations; Dr. Omoniyi Ibietan, Head Online Media, Tina Nwachukwu, Principal Manager, Consumer Protection and Advocacy; Charles Alimikhena, Deputy Manager, Special Duties; Masud Adam, Officer, Consumer Protection and Advocacy.
NCC Special Consumer Advocacy SHINE YOUR EYES, NO FALL MUGU Debuts in Benin
A stopover.
NCC Special Consumer Advocacy SHINE YOUR EYES, NO FALL MUGU Debuts in Benin
NCC Special Consumer Advocacy SHINE YOUR EYES, NO FALL MUGU Debuts in Benin
NCC Special Consumer Advocacy SHINE YOUR EYES, NO FALL MUGU Debuts in Benin

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