Use your spectrums or else: FG warns erring operators

 By Emeka Aginam & Anozie Egole It may not be business as usual for operators who do not make use of their spectrum long after acquiring...

 By Emeka Aginam & Anozie Egole It may not be business as usual for operators who do not make use of their spectrum long after acquiring them. This is sequel to Federal Government’s recent hints that it would take decisive action against operators of unused spectrums. Meanwhile the telecoms regulatory agency, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, is currently consulting with stakeholders, promising that it will soon come up with guidelines on when and how an operator should use the spectrum after acquiring it. 

However, it appears that majority of the stakeholders are in favour of a situation where an operator may be mandated to use the spectrum, trade it or lose it after a given time of lying fallow. The condition where an operator is allowed to sell a spectrum or unused part is generally known as spectrum trading. Spectrum trading is a management practice that permits transfer of spectrum licence rights and obligations from one party to another after approval by the regulator. Although it has not really been a practice in Nigeria, stakeholders are however, saying that time has come for the nation to allow telecoms companies to trade spectrums in order to speed up broadband deployment across the country and increase penetration for subscribers. They believed that the plan if adopted by Nigeria would provide incentives for innovation and encourage faster deployment of new services at affordable rates. Consequently, this formed part of the deliberations at the just concluded Telecom Executive Regulations Forums, held last week in Lagos. At the event, spectrum trading, was viewed by many as the key step to be taken in the reform of spectrum management regulatory practice. It was adjudged to be capable of unlocking the potential of new technologies and eliminating artificial scarcity of spectrum which find expression in inflated prices for spectrum-using services. The regulation which will likely come up from the first quarter of 2017, according to NCC, would commence after agreement must have been reached with industry stakeholders. The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta in his keynote address noted that Spectrum is a scarce national resource that requires cost effective management and utilization. “As one of the key points of the agenda, we are putting a lot of resources around allocation, management, and utilization of spectrum resources. ” These include application of appropriate management tools, and re-farming of underutilized resources. In doing this, we were able to earn about N47 billion for the government in the past one-year. “Spectrum management in Nigeria is taken very seriously by the Commission because of its wider implication as a national resource as well as an enabler of services, especially in a country where mobile communications is predominant. “The Commission approaches the allocation of spectrum for telecommunications services with utmost transparency and professionalism. It is estimated that the Federal Government has earned more than N300 billion from Spectrum sales since 2001. Spectrum trading will encourage innovation Speaking during a panel session on spectrum management in Nigeria, former President of Association of Telecom companies of Nigeria , ATCON, Engr. Lanre Ajayi said that spectrum trading should be encouraged among operators to allow smaller operators in the rural areas of the country to use it. “There is need to allow operators who have unused spectrum to sell it. This will allow operators who cannot use it to outsource it to others.” According to Ajayi, any operator allocated spectrum should be allowed to use it, trade it, or run the risk of losing it. “Several spectrums were alloted out on national level. Some operators may not have the resources to roll out across the nation. We should have national and regional spectrums so that small operators can survive. Spectrum should be given out equally to aid competition.” The Chief Executive Officer, Bitflux, Mr. Biodun Omoniyi who also agreed with the submissions of the former ATCON President, said that spectrum trading is something that would benefit the industry, adding that it would encourage innovation. Also speaking, the Chief Executive Officer of MTN Nigeria, Ferdi Moolman agreed with other speakers on the ‘use it, trade it or lose it approach. The MTN boss who was represented by ‘Mr. Uche Osuji said that spectrum should be used efficiently because it is a scarce resource. The Director of Spectrum Administration at the NCC, Austine Nwaulune said: “Hopefully before the end of first quarter 2017, we should start spectrum trading in Nigeria.” Ndukwe backs spectrum trading Meanwhile, in another forum, former EVC of NCC, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, had also backed spectrum trading saying it would provide incentives for innovation and encourage faster deployment of new services at affordable rates. Ndukwe, said approach would encourage better use of spectrum resources that are idling across the country. In an annual consultative forum on engineering and emerging technologies themed, “Frame work for spectrum trading in Nigeria”, organised by the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, in Lagos recently, the former Executive Vice Chairman of the commission and the Chief Executive Officer of Open Media, Engr. Ernest Ndukwe, said that taxing calls above three minutes will end up getting more people out of connection. He also advised the commission to reduce the way they regulate the smaller communication companies as over regulation will not allow the companies to grow. The CBN governor should concentrate on the banks and leave the communication industry alone. Once they start taxing the communication industry, the plans of having 30% broadband penetration by 2018 will be difficult. I will continue saying the right thing the way it is. I am urge operators to invest more in awareness creation. They should also invest on Cooperate Social Responsibilities, CSR, especially the ones that are targeted at digital illiteracy, they should also encourage roll out of metro services. Africa is ripe enough for spectrum trading and I am so grateful to NCC for bringing it to Nigeria. If you acquire a large spectrum you should be able to sell part of it and not all. Spectrum trading will encourage faster deployment of new services at affordable rates. It will give avenue for operators to obtain spectrum. Is good to know that spectrum trading is here and there is serious need to leave it out of political interference”

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Saga Entertainment: Use your spectrums or else: FG warns erring operators
Use your spectrums or else: FG warns erring operators
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