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Politics in Tech? MTN, Tinubu's Mafab Network Pay $273.6m Each To Clinch 5G Spectrum Licence as Glo, Airtel & Etisalat wait

MTN Nigeria and Mafab Communications Limited which is presumed to be owned by Former Lagos State Governor and soon to be presidential candidate for APC Mr. Bola Ahmed Tinubu have made their full payment of $273.6 million each for the 5G Spectrum licence, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said on Thursday.

According to channels Television, In December, the NCC said they won the bid for the 5G licence. According to a statement issued by the NCC Director of Public Affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, the commission’s Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. Umar Danbatta, has officially confirmed the payment status of the two companies.

“I wish to officially announce that NCC has received and confirmed payments from MTN and Mafab for their acquisition of 1 slot of 100Mhz each in the 3.5Ghz spectrum auction, which was successfully conducted by the Commission on December 13, 2021. They both met the deadline of February 24, 2022, as set by the Commission,” Danbatta was quoted as saying.

“Arising from this and on behalf of the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, the Board and Management of the NCC, I wish to congratulate the MTN and Mafab for this feat, as we look forward to accomplishing other deployment timelines in the 5G deployment roadmap, as articulated in the National Policy on 5G Networks for Nigeria’s Digital Economy.”

The NCC boss also thanked the Federal Government for its support and commitment to the deployment of 5G technology in Nigeria which, he said, will bring substantial network improvements, including higher connection speed, mobility, and capacity, as well as low-latency capabilities to communications services in Nigeria.

As part of the auction process emplaced by the NCC in the Information Memorandum (IM), the companies alongside Airtel Networks Ltd submitted bids with an initial bid deposit (IBD) of $19.74 million, representing 10 per cent of the Reserve Price of the 3.5GHz Spectrum by the close of the bid submission date of November 29, 2021.

Following the successful auction on December 13, 2021, and the emergence of MTN and Mafab as winners, they were required to pay the balance of the bid amount of $253.86 million on or before February 24, 2022.

However, aside from the $273.6 million payment, MTN paid an additional $15.9 million, being the bidding sum it offered at the assignment state of the spectrum auction, making it clinch its preferred Lot 1 (3500-3600 Megahertz-MHz) in the 3.5Ghz spectrum; while, Mafab Communications, which bided lower at the assignment stage, consequentially settled with Lot 2 (3700-3800Mhz) at no extra cost.

It remains to be seen when the likes of Airtel, Etisalat and Glo will obtain their own license. But as it's stands right now I think they would have to wait a bit longer to be considered for 5G deployment by these network providers.

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