NIG warns NCC against national frequency allocation

By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria

The Nigeria Internet Group (NIG) has warned the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) against allocating national frequencies to operators.

Speaking yesterday during a Stakeholders Forum to Discuss Modalities for the Auction of Spectrum in the 2.6Gigahertz (GHz) band organised by the NCC, the group’s President, Engr Bayo Banjo said from past experiences in the area of spectrum allocation, operators that tie down the frequencies down without putting them into use.

Banjo said national frequency allocation has the disadvantage that when they are not used nationally in line with the status of the licence, retrieval becomes difficult, if not impossible, because the owners will run to court to frustrate any such attempt by the regulator.

He said: “The lesson we gathered from the last 2.3GHz auction, whether it was the last one or the ones before, is that we should never, ever allocate frequencies on a national basis. This is a most important issue. “If you look at the.2.3GHZ, some of them have not even left Lagos; some have done just Lagos and Abuja, some Port Harcourt or whatever. When do you think we are going to see them operate in Sokoto or Zamfara or other far flung places?”

According to him, if the NCC insists on issuing national spectrum licences, it should therefore split the licences into 36 representing the states of the federation or into 72 so that whoever is issued the licences will append his signature on each of the licences so that in the event of a failure to deploy services in any of the states/regions, it will be easy for the NCC to retrieve that particular licence. He said this way, it becomes much easier for the judges to decide on the case should the licencee decides to go to court.

 He said: “What I am saying is that when you want to issue a national licence, issue 36 or 72 licences so that when someone doesn’t roll out in a particular state, it is easier legally to retrieve that frequency.

“If frequencies are allocated as national licences under one licence, there is a legal difficulty in trying to retrieve that frequency. South Korea for instance has the highest density of internet penetration and the country is just using the 2.3 GHz. So when I look at it:  all the excuses we need spectrum, we need this; we need that. Let us be logical on this issue: Do not allocate frequency on a national level, if you want to give a national licence, break it down into 36 or 72 different zones.”

He said the 2.3 spectrum had been in the kitty of some people over the last five or six years without its impact being felt in the country.


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