Spectrum trading nears as operators’ pay one per cent administrative fee

Spectrum is the oxygen that keeps the telecommunications sector going and in the last 16 years of it’s revolution in the country, it has added over N500 billion to government coffers.

Indications are pointing towards January 2018 for the immediate commencement of spectrum trading in Nigeria, according to information gathered by The Guardian.

Spectrum trading is a management practice that permits transfer of spectrum licence rights and obligations from one party to another in various forms and scope after a commercial transaction duly approved by the NCC.

There are several spectra that are not put to use by operators, which to a greater extent, had hindered roll out of more telephony services in unserved and underserved areas of the country.

Spectrum is the oxygen that keeps the telecommunications sector going and in the last 16 years of it’s revolution in the country, it has added over N500 billion to government coffers.

The Director of Spectrum Administration at the NCC, Austine Nwaulune, at the just concluded International Telecommunications Union (ITU) World Telecoms conference and exhibition, told journalists that the commission was putting finishing touches to the process that would allow Spectrum trading in the country. He stressed that it should be ready anytime soon.

A source at the commission told The Guardian on Monday, that the whole process is getting tidied up, “and as expected, NCC wants contributions from stakeholders so as to have a balance trading regime. All I can say for now is that nothing is impossible, hopefully say early next year, say January, the market should be open. Mind you, it can even be before then, depending on hamonisation of various ideas.”

Meanwhile, a draft policy on spectrum trading on the website of the Commission revealed that operators that would be involved in the trade have some tasks to perform.

Specifically, Section 7 of the document, which talked about fees, reads: “Applicants that have been granted approval to trade in spectrum will be required to pay a number of fees as may be applicable. One of it is administrative fee of one per cent of the gross proceeds.

Also, “For trading of spectrum acquired through administrative process, the Seller shall in addition, pay to the Commission 60 per cent of the net proceeds of the transaction.

“At any time after a transaction has been approved, and based on information obtained subsequent to the approval, the Commission shall be entitled to recover from a buyer and/or a seller, any fee that was not paid on a transaction on account of non-disclosure of gross proceeds and/or net proceeds.”

Section 8, which talked about renewal of traded spectrum, said where a traded Spectrum Licence expires, the Licence shall be renewed subject to the Licensee complying with the conditions of the Licence and such other terms and conditions as may be determined by the Commission in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

According to NCC, upon expiration of a Spectrum Lease/Sharing Agreement, a Seller shall be obligated to renew the Agreement subject to a Buyer submitting a request for renewal and meeting the terms and conditions of the Agreement as filed with the Commission. Any dispute between the Seller and Buyer regarding the renewal or non-renewal of a Spectrum Lease/Sharing Agreement which cannot be resolved by the parties shall be referred to the Commission for resolution.

Prior to this time, operators, including the CEO of Spectranet, David Venn have raised the need for Nigeria to start spectrum trading, saying it will go a long way to reposition the sector and help in serving areas yet to be served in the country.

President, Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Olusola Teniola, who noted that telecoms companies have been waiting patiently for spectrum trading, argued that it would help in re-activating the industry buy ensuring that “all inactive spectrum licences are given to those who need them.”

According to him, spectrum trading is an alien concept in the nation’s telecoms space but telecoms players under the auspices of ATCON as a veritable alternative to making more spectrum available in the country.



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