Prof. Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman of Nigerian Communications Commission on Monday, said the commission was determined to provide qualitative services to subscribers.
Danbatta said this at a public inquiry on the transfer of licence and resources, including 800MHz spectrum from Visafone Communications Limited to MTN Nigeria held at the NCC headquarters Abuja.
He said NCC’s decision on the matter would also ensure the provision of qualitative and efficient telecommunications services throughout the country.
He said: “As you are all aware, the demand for spectrum has increased due to emergence of disruptive innovations such as mobile broadband, Web applications, Cloud Computing, internet of things and the proliferation of smart devices among others.
“Consequently, in order to reap the benefits of effective utilization of spectrum as well as improve operational efficiency and regulatory excellence.
“The Commission in accordance with its mandate as enshrined in the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 embarked on re-planning of some of its frequency bands.”
Danbatta said the public inquiry was in line with the spirit of participatory regulation and the strategic objective of the commission to hold regular consultation with the industry stakeholders.
He said the commission has decided to hold the inquiry to elicit inputs and comments from stakeholders to enable it draw important and beneficial contributions from their wealth of experience and research.
During the public inquiry, two major telecom operators in the country, 9Mobile and Airtel, opposed the proposed transfer of operating licence and resources, including 800MHz spectrum from Visafone Communication limited to MTN Nigeria, the Head of Regulatory Affairs, 9Mobile.
Chidozie Arinze, the Head of Regulatory Affairs, 9Mobile, said spectrum remains a scarce national resource available in limited quantity and as such cannot be leased to only MTN as an operator at the detriment of other operators.
He argued that the 800MHz spectrum from Visafone must be managed in a more efficiently and must not be given to one operator in order not to create room for wider dominance of the market by MTN.
On his part, the Airtel representative, Lucky Ubani, urged the NCC not to allow MTN acquire the spectrum as such step would extend its market dominance beyond voice segment, which he said could spell doom for the industry.
He warned that care should be taken in order not to create another monopoly in the market.
He, then, urged the regulator to come up with measures that would enable other top operators operate side by side with MTN.
MTN Senior manager, Regulatory Affairs and Corporate Relations, Johnson Oyewo, dismissed the position of 9Mobile and Airtel, saying that their positions were based on presumptions and lack of data to suggest what they were saying.
He said the desire for the acquisition of the 800MHz spectrum from Visafone by MTN was not driven by selfishness but to expand its network and to help the country achieve its 30% broadband coverage by end of 2018.
Oyewo said: “We want to expand our network to the rural areas and that is the advantage the 800MHz has to a long distant with less resources.
“We want to help the Rural Telephony Project at large; it is Nigeria that will benefit from it.
“This is in line with broadband objective of Nigeria. With this transaction, MTN can leapfrog towards the 30% broadband target.
“We see a greater good. We urge the commission that this assessment should not only be based on competition but also on the interest of the consumer and the economy; what that translate is that there will be a direct impact on the GDP.”