Umar Danbatta, executive vice-chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), says the agency may roll out three additional 5G licences before 2024.
Danbatta gave the hint during an interview with newsmen on Tuesday in Lagos.
In December 2021, NCC conducted the 5G spectrum auction with a reserve price of $197.4 million for two lots of spectrum in the 3.5GHz band.
MTN and Mafab Communications emerged winners of the 5G licences.
In the interview, Danbatta explained that the rollout of the three new licences would depend on the pace at which winners of the first two licences developed their respective spectrum.
According to him, there is a provision in the information memorandum that says licence winners need to be given “up to two years to operate’’.
He said there was also a provision that the waiting period could be reviewed.
“I’m not saying the review is in the process as we talk,” Danbatta said.
“Not yet; because we want to ensure that these two assigned licences have started operations and are okay.
“Of course, we will give them time to see what plans they have because they need to start implementing their plan for expansion of infrastructure that will support these additional services.
“Everything is on the table, meaning we have so far auctioned two slots.
“We have three more to go and nothing stops the NCC from assigning the remaining slots.’’
He said the NCC was delaying to roll out the remaining slots “until after the two years specified or the government may say, look, cut down the years from two years to maybe one year’’.
Danbatta also said that the government could provide additional incentives to the two licensees.
“This is so that together, we can be able to agree that there is a need for a reduction in the waiting time for a licence,” he stated.
The NCC boss confirmed that MTN had paid fully for its 5G licence while Mafab still had a grace period of two days to pay up.
“Two telecommunication companies won the bid for the 5G spectrum licences in December and were given two months within which to pay up,” Danbatta said.
“So far, MTN has paid $273,600,000 while Mafab Communication has up to the Feb. 24 to pay. There is still time and we are optimistic.”
He, however, did not comment on what would happen if Mafab did not meet the payment deadline