*Stakeholders: Auctions favour players with deeper pockets
*Stakeholders: Urge resource sharing approach
NCC: Auctions push decisions back to the people
Lagos: Stakeholders in Nigeria mobile industry has said they are alarmed by high cost of spectrum in Nigeria as the auction process give advantage to deep pocket telecoms operator who often acquire frequency bands for wrong reasons.
They made the remarks at the “Stakeholders Forum on the Licensing of the 2.6GHz frequency band Post Mortem” organized by Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) on Monday in Lagos.
IT NEWS NIGERIA gathered that the event is aimed at seeking useful industry feedback on the auction 2.6GHz band as NCC will take note of suggestions for continuous improvement of the frequency allocation process.
As the sole approved bidder, MTN emerged winner of the 2.6 GHz frequency spectrum auction, a 10-year radio band licence for mobile broadband services in June.
We also learned, according those present at the event, that NCC’s Auction process favour ‘The big four telecoms operators – MTN, Airtel, Etisalat and Glo – as they accused them of stampeding broadband access in order to sustain revenue from voice service.
Managing Director of Spectranet Ltd. David Venn said major telecoms operators in Nigeria tend to acquire frequency not for the purpose of broadband rollout but to support other arm of their business which is voice service. “Auctions favor players with deeper pockets.”
Broadband, he said should attract foreign investment and NCC should take other smaller players into account, adding, cost does not just end in obtaining spectrum but rolling out service and it must be justifiable before company board to make such investment.
According to him, the industry needs a big investor in broadband that can disrupt the existing intensions of the establishment.
Venn explained that there was instance in India where an entirely new company in mobile terrain injected $19 billion to create disruptive broadband company that altered forever the way business is done. “Similar disruption is needed to change the establishment in Nigeria broadband market,” he added.
Director, Spectrum Administration at NCC, Mr. Austin Nwaulune in a passionate presentation defended NCC auction processes. He said “we prefer auction because it is transparent. In the process, NCC puts the decision back to the people.
Through consultations and stakeholders forum, “we put the information in the hands of everybody so that they can make the decision.”
There was a remark as regards if NCC ever carried out preliminary studies about certain frequency and places before spectrum auctions. Such studies help to show potential market for broadband to justify probable huge capital outlay in infrastructure.
Stakeholders encouraged NCC to consult widely before fixing reserve prices for spectrum auction so that the public will know how and the factors taken into account and the statistic NCC used to arrive at reserve price.
ntel’s Director, External Affairs, Mr. Osondu Nwokoro said naira has plummeted since the auction of 2.6GHz and that will affect rollout.
He suggested that NCC should include rollout plans into the bidding process, adding that rollout must be time bound.
They argue that Government must create a spectrum market to ensure full utilization existing frequency bands that were auctioned over the years
In his opening remarks, NCC Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. Umer Garba Danbatta, who was represented by Director of Public Affairs at NCC, Mr Tony Ojobo said the Commission in consonance with its practice of collaborative regulation seeks to get useful industry feedback on the auction with the aim of ensuring the effective and efficient usage of available spectrum bands for the delivery of broadband internet access to Nigerians.
He noted suggestions will be provided for the continuous improvement of the frequency allocation process and optimal utilisation of the licensed spectrum.
According to NCC, this is in line with this objective that the Commission recently conducted an auction for the available Lots in the 2.6 GHz spectrum band.
The apex regulator also stated that the catalytic impact that the growth of the telecommunications industry have had on the Nigerian economy has been profound. This positive impact can be accelerated with the pervasive deployment of broadband infrastructure. As most Nigerians today access the internet via wireless means, it is critical that important resources for last mile broadband deployment (like frequency spectrum) continues to be effectively, efficiently and transparently licensed for the pervasive spread of broadband services.
What is Broadband
Broadband refers to band of telecommunications signal in which band of frequencies is available to transmit information. Broadband is evolving digital technologies that provide consumers a signal-switch facility offering integrated access to voice, high speed data service, video-on-demand services, and interactive delivery services. Broadband is the term that is commonly associated with high-speed data transfer connections. Bandwidth or data transfer rate is the amount of data that can be carried from one point to another in a given time period (usually in second). It is expressed in bits (of data) per second (bps).