The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) successfully conducted a mock auction of 3.5 gigahertz (GHz) spectrum for the deployment of the country’s Fifth Generation (5G) network.
The simulated auction, which took place on Friday, December 10, 2021 at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja, served as a warm-up for the main auction, which is scheduled for Monday, December 13, 2021 at the same location.
The simulation exercise was carried out in accordance with the requirements specified in the Information Memorandum (IM) for the 3.5 GHz spectrum auction. The IM is a document that defines the licensing process for the 3.5 GHz spectrum band, which was previously published on the Commission’s website at the start of the auction process.
The three qualified bidders for the 3.5 GHz spectrum, namely MTN Nigeria, Mafab Communications Ltd, and Airtel Networks Ltd, participated in the software-based simulated auction exercise using the Ascending Clock Auction System.
The mock auction was witnessed by Prof. Adeolu Akande, Chairman of the NCC Board of Commissioners; Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Commission; Ubale Maska, Executive Commissioner, Technical Services; and Adeleke Adewolu, Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management.
Representatives from the bidding companies, senior management staff from relevant Commission departments, technical consultants, software consultants, legal consultants, and other external observers were among those who witnessed the mock auction.
Following the successful mock auction, the Commission will license two slots in the 3.5 GHz spectrum band, which are expected to be chosen by successful bidders at the end of the Main Auction on Monday, December 13, 2021.
The auction on Monday will be a watershed moment in Nigeria’s determination to harness the benefits of 5G for the country’s socioeconomic growth, with concrete 5G roll-out beginning in 2022.
Danbatta stated in a brief statement at the Mock Auction that the Commission had taken all necessary steps to ensure due diligence on the credibility of the consultants and to protect the integrity of the software solution being used to carry out the implementation of this historic national assignment.
“This is consistent with the open, credible, transparent, and fair manner in which the Commission has previously conducted auction processes, which have been applauded locally and globally,” Danbatta said.
“In addition to the electronic mock, the Commission conducted a simulation of the manual auction process to ensure a fail-safe process.” This is done to ensure that bidders are also familiar with the manual auction in case there are any circumstances on the Main Auction Day that necessitate a switch to the Manual Auction. “It’s worth noting that the two forms – electronic and manual – are clearly stated in the IM and follow the same process,” he said.
Representatives from the bidding companies, the Commission, the consultants, and other observers at the Mock Auction expressed satisfaction with the simulation exercise, which also allowed the Commission to fine-tune the auction process ahead of the Main Auction.
In the fourth quarter of last year, the Commission began the process of auctioning off 5G spectrum.
The Commission published the Draft Information Memorandum (IM) on the auction of the 5G spectrum on its website (www.ncc.gov.ng) on October 7, 2021, and issued a public notice in major channels, including print, electronic, and new digital media. The Commission accepted comments on the draft IM until October 28, 2021.
The Commission held a stakeholders’ engagement forum in Lagos on November 3, 2021, during which comments received from a wide range of stakeholders, including major operators, were thoroughly discussed and considered.
The Commission published the Final IM and Stakeholders’ comments on it on its website and in national dailies on November 10, 2021, and set the bid submission deadline for Wednesday, November 24, 2021.
As a responsive regulator, the Commission also proceeded to address concerns raised by some stakeholders as a result of social disruptions by extending the deadline for bidding applications to Wednesday, November 24, 2021 to Monday, November 29, 2021.
The NCC announced on December 1, 2021, that three companies – MTN Nigeria Limited, Mafab Communications Ltd, and Airtel Networks Ltd – had successfully submitted bids in accordance with the IM requirements.
As a result, the Commission wishes to thank all stakeholders for their assistance, collaboration, and partnership in getting to this point, and urges all stakeholders not to rest on their laurels until the bidding processes are completed successfully. Following that, as has become its custom, the Commission will rally stakeholders for the next phase of the 5G policy’s implementation.