The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has adopted and published the “final version”: of its Information Memorandum for an auction of additional spectrum in the 3.5GHz band, following the successful sale of 5G licences in that range in December last year. Last month interested stakeholders were invited to make written submissions and participate in a public consultation on the draft version of the Information Memorandum, which was held on 15 November, and following the successful conclusion of this process, the spectrum auction is now currently scheduled to take place on 19 December.

The regulator plans to auction off the remaining two lots of 100MHz TDD spectrum in the 3.5GHz band, ranging from 3400MHz-3500MHz and 3600MHz-3700MHz. Each lot has a reserve price of USD273.6 million, with the nationwide spectrum licences valid for ten years. To qualify to bid in the auction, applicants will not have to be an existing licensed network operator in Nigeria, although any successful bidder which does not already have a Unified Access Service Licence (UASL) will be granted one upon payment of the specified fee. The NCC has placed a cap of 200MHz as the maximum amount of spectrum that an operator can hold in the 3.5GHz band, and a licensee with an existing assignment in the 3.5GHz band is eligible to bid for only one lot of 100MHz. Winning bidders will be required to launch commercial 5G services within twelve months of the effective date of the licence, and coverage should reach at least two states in each of the country’s six geo-political zones within two years. The announcement of the provisional winners is scheduled for 21 December.

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database states that MTN Nigeria and newcomer Mafab Communications emerged as the winners of last December’s 3.5GHz spectrum auction, after each paying USD273.6 million for one lot of 100MHz TDD spectrum. Following the conclusion of the assignment stage, MTN selected spectrum in the 3500MHz-3600MHz band for an additional USD15.9 million, and the second lot (3700MHz-3800MHz) was assigned to Mafab.

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