Nigeria ISPs kick against NCC moves to sell 2.3GHz band

By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria

Nigerian Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have kicked against moves by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to sell the remaining spectrum in the 2.3 gigahertz (GHz) band, arguing that such a move will further compound the misery of operators licensed and currently operating within the band.

The operators are Mobitel, Spectranet and Direct on Personal Computer (DoPC).

Atel Ajha, chief operating officer (COO) of Spectranet, who spoke on behalf the  operators at a forum organised by the NCC on the ‘Best Option for Licensing the Remaining Slots in the 2.3Ghz Band’, argued that instead of selling the remaining slots to fresh operators, they should be given the opprotunity to buy it.

He averred that the standard practice all over the world is that operators in the band range get 30 MHz, suggesting that guardband of between 2.3Ghz and 2.4Ghz should also be provided to take care of interference and spurious emission.

He said their request is predicated on the need for them to extend service deployement to other states of the federation with superior technology and new customers’ experience.

“Today’s planning must provide for future technology requirement,” he warned, arguing that the proposal of the NCC to open bid for the 30 MHz will unleash an era of “unfair competition” on the industry.

Ajha lamented that there are no significant wireless operators in the country when in fact, globally, they are the ones that provide the primary network operations.

He said international bandwidth rate is the country is one of the highest in the world, adding that when the country is compared with the rest of the world, its national long distance and metro network is also too exorbitant so is also the rental cost too.

He fears that if another operator is licensed and that operator has infrastructure like international carrier licence as well as metro and national long distance fibre ownership may lead to cross-subsidy on ISPs, creating an “unfair competition” in the industry.

In his opening remarks, the executive vice chairman and chief executive officer of the NCC, Eugene Juwah, said convening the forum in line with the NCC’s participatory regulatory approach. “The objective of this forum, in line with the Commission’s policy of participatory regulation amongst other things is to provide an avenue for stakeholders and users of the 2.3 GHz band to discuss, technically criticise, exchange ideas and proffer options that will help the Commission in arriving at a decision on the further licensing of the remaining 40 MHz bandwidth in the band for the benefit of all Nigerians.

“This forum is very remarkable as we have in our midst highly respected presenters with decades of practical experience at their disposal to deliberate on options and challenges as it relates to further licensing of the band,” the EVC said.

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