Nigerian regulator has disclosed plans to transfer the spectrum owned by Visafone to MTN that had acquired in 2016 Nigeria’s only surviving CDMA company – plans that faced tough opposition from MTN Nigeria’s rivals.
During a public hearing organized to discuss this issue, all telecoms operators, including Airtel and Globacom, expressed their disagreement regarding this operation and considered it dangerous for the telecoms market. They argued that the transfer of spectrum to MTN would give it an advantage over the others and will enable it to dominate the market, given the fact that it is already the biggest operator in the country.
“Allowing MTN to get the spectrum in question will impede competition in the telecommunications market,” said 9mobile spokesperson Oluseyi Osunsedo. He insisted that spectrum is a scarce national resource and cannot be allocated to an operator simply because he has the financial ability to buy it.
However, Johnson Oyewo, MTN Nigeria's Senior Manager for Regulatory Affairs denounced the fact that his company is being criticized because of its plans to invest in spectrum acquisition whereas other operators had the chance to increase their spectrum share in 2016 when the NCC (Nigerian Communication Commission) organized an auction on the 2.6 GHz spectrum in 2016.
“Considering the fact that 2x40MHz in the 2.6GHz band is still available for sale, it will be improper for any operator to complain about spectrum consideration in one operator if they refuse to invest,” Oyewo added.
NCC Executive Vice Chairman Prof Umar Garba Danbatta said the regulator reserves the right to decide on the transfer of license and resources.