The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has suspended the Spectrum Trading Guidelines 2018 for the Nigerian telecommunications industry. The Board of Commissioners of the Commission rose from its meeting recently with this position and is informing all licensed telecommunications operators, prospective investors, industry stakeholders and the general public in that regard.
The board had earlier taken the decision for Spectrum Trading in response to telecommunications global dynamics as well as the efforts to optimally utilize and maximize the benefits of the spectrum scarce resource. Spectrum is a scarce commodity which, when inefficiently utilised, greatly limits broadband coverage and speed. The current Spectrum Trading Guidelines were developed in 2018 after industry-wide consultations and this instrument allows that the Spectrum resource be traded on the Secondary Market through Transfer, Sharing or Leasing upon satisfying stipulated regulatory conditions.
The Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020 – 2025 launched by President Muhammadu Buhari, in Abuja last March requires that these Guidelines be reviewed to ensure that unutilised spectrum is fairly traded and to facilitate rollout by other operators among others. This is to address the need for ubiquitous broadband deployment to accelerate penetration and access in line with the economic agenda of the Federal Government.
In accordance with the NNBP 2020 – 2025, for optimal use of spectrum, licensees have the obligation of the Use it or Lose It Policy because idle high demand spectrum does a disservice to poorly served populations and should be released for effective use as may be required to promote efficient use of assigned spectrum. The ‘Use it or Lose it’ rule should therefore apply in all instances where assigned spectrum is found to be non-utilised or underutilised and ensures unutilised spectrum is fairly traded to facilitate rollout by other operators.
In response to the need for the review of these guidelines as highlighted above, and also following Paragraph 12 of the Spectrum Trading Guidelines, 2018 which vests the commission with the right to review/vary and modify these guidelines from time to time as it may deem fit, the Spectrum Trading Guidelines 2018 application in Nigeria is hereby suspended until further notice, as declared by the Board.