Spectrum utilization: NCC to issue last-mile satellite operators license for broadband services

To reaffirm its commitment to ensuring the provision of broadband infrastructure across the country, Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) has revealed plans to issue last-mile satellite operators license.

The commission’s Executive Vice Chairman, Prof Umar Danbatta made this disclosure in a virtual forum organized by the Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) on Thursday while speaking on the challenges of spectrum utilization in Nigeria for last-mile connectivity.

Themed “meeting the interests of
government, consumers and
telecoms companies in the era of
COVID-19 and post COVID-19 pandemic for digital economy development”, Danbatta stated the sector is a fast-evolving industry.

He, however, stressed that the commission’s activities have impacted on efficient improvements in service delivery that enable national development following the disruption caused by COVID 19 Pandemic

According to him, “It is worth to mention that, at the heart of ICT is the Telecoms Infrastructure, which ensures the collapse of distance as a
a barrier for communications.”

Spectrum is a scarce commodity which when inefficiently utilized greatly limits broadband coverage and speeds.

Danbatta also noted that NCC has already issued landing permits to 55 space stations that are providing satellite communications in the country, last year.

The move would enable it to regulate satellite and space services and ensure the operators contribute significantly to broadband penetration, according to Danbatta.

Going down the memory lane, NCC’s EVC said the commission’s commitment to boost internet connectivity in Nigeria’s telecoms industry is evident in different initiatives undertaken as far back as 2015.

Danbatta said spectrum replanning on the 800MHz band given to CDMA was one of such initiatives.

Following that, from 2015 to 2018 initiatives in the likes of spectrum re-farming to 1800 MHz for LTE services, spectrum auctioning of 2,6 GHz for 14 Slots, and administrative assignment of 700 MHz (TWO OF 2 x 10 MHz) had been taken.

Recall, NCC suspended the Spectrum Trading Guidelines 2018 for the Nigerian telecommunications industry.

The Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020 – 2025 launched by President Muhammadu Buhari, in Abuja in March 2020 requires that these Guidelines be reviewed to ensure that unutilized Spectrum is fairly traded and to facilitate rollout by other operators amongst others.

According to the commission, the move was in response to telecommunications global dynamics as well as the efforts to optimally utilize and maximize the benefits of the Spectrum scarce resource.

This is to address the need for ubiquitous broadband deployment to accelerate penetration and access in line with the economic agenda of the Federal Government.

‘‘In accordance with the NNBP 2020 – 2025, for optimal use of spectrum, licensees have the obligation of the Use it or Lose It Policy because idle high demand spectrum does a disservice to poorly served populations and should be released for effective use as may be required to Promote Efficient Use of assigned Spectrum.’

‘‘The ‘Use it or Lose it’ rule should, therefore, apply in all instances where the assigned spectrum is found to be non-utilized or underutilized and ensures unutilized spectrum is fairly traded to facilitate rollout by other operators.”

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