The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) approved the transfer of 800MHz spectrum to MTN Group, which had been withheld while a public inquiry into the operator’s 2015 acquisition of Visafone Communications took place, Bloomberg reported.
MTN’s acquisition has been a topic of debate in Nigeria for years due to the 800MHz spectrum holding. While other frequencies are available for operators in the country to buy, these are in higher bands, meaning they do not offer the same benefits in terms of coverage.
In June 2018 Airtel and 9mobile opposed the transfer of licences and resources from Visafone Communications to MTN Nigeria. Airtel said the move would allow its rival to extend its market dominance beyond the voice segment and care should be taken not to create a monopoly.
Olusola Teniola, president of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, told Bloomberg the NCC’s decision to approve the spectrum transfer will enable MTN Nigeria to expand the reach of its network, mooting rural and unconnected areas as potential beneficiaries.
“MTN is a dominant player in the voice segment and obviously they would like to ensure that they hold a leadership position in the data space,” Teniola said. “Any operator that has the kind of spectrum that MTN holds is in a good position to lead the market.”
The operator faces other battles in the country: in January, it agreed to pay $53 million to settle a dispute with the Central Bank involving improperly repatriated funds.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back