By Jessica Dogo
Abuja – The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has suspended the Spectrum Trading Guidelines 2018 for the Nigerian telecommunications industry.
A statement signed by Dr Henry Nkemadu, Director, Public Affairs, NCC, on Wednesday in Abuja, said the commission’s Board of Commissioners rose from a meeting with the position.
Nkemadu said that the board had begun to inform licensed telecommunications operators, prospective investors, industry stakeholders and the general public about the development.
He said that the board had earlier taken the decision for Spectrum Trading in response to telecommunications global dynamics as well as the efforts to optimally utilise and maximise the benefits of the Spectrum scarce resource.
The director explained that Spectrum was a scarce commodity, which when inefficiently utilised greatly limited broadband coverage and speeds.
“The current Spectrum Trading Guidelines were developed in 2018 after industry-wide consultations.
“This instrument allows that the Spectrum resource be traded on the Secondary Market through Transfer, Sharing or Leasing upon satisfying stipulated regulatory conditions.
“The Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020 – 2025, launched by President Muhammadu Buhari, in Abuja in March 2020 requires that these Guidelines be reviewed.
“This was to ensure that unutilised Spectrum is fairly traded and to facilitate rollout by other operators amongst others.
“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,” he said.
He further explained that in accordance with the NNBP, 2020 – 2025, for optimal use of spectrum, licensees had the obligation of the `Use it or Lose it Policy’.
He explained that idle high demand spectrum did a disservice to poorly served populations.
He said that spectrum should be released for effective use as might be required to promote efficient use of assigned spectrum.
He advised that the ‘Use it or Lose it’ rule should therefore apply in all instances where assigned spectrum was found to be non-utilised or underutilised.
He stated that it would ensure that unutilised spectrum was fairly traded to facilitate rollout by other operators.
According to Nkemadu, the suspension is in response to the need for the review of the Guidelines as highlighted.
He further said that it followed paragraph 12 of the Spectrum Trading Guidelines, 2018, which vested the Commission with the right to review/vary and modify the guidelines from time to time as it might deem fit.
“The Spectrum Trading Guidelines 2018 application in Nigeria is hereby suspended until further notice, as declared by the Board,’’ he added.