NCC Awards 25 Network Operator Licences

The Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) has awarded 25 mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) licences to ensure that the country will go from having four mobile providers − MTN, Globacom, Airtel and 9Mobile − to nearly 30 in a few months, a milestone transforming the country’s telco market.

As a licensing fee, the 25 corporations paid the government US$7.7 million to the regulator led by Professor Umar Danbatta, executive vice-chairman of the NCC.

MVNOs are expected to provide competitive telecom industry alternatives, reduce subscribers’ phone and data expenses, and improve rural connectivity.

According to JSC Ingenium, a telecoms engineering company, the shift provides Nigeria with a unique chance to enter new and creative services and new-value mobile offers.

JSC Ingenium focuses on developing infrastructure and network services for mobile operators.

It says the overwhelming response to the NCC’s sale of new MVNO licences has been more than positive, and it can be viewed as a success story that places Nigeria as one of the continent’s key economic powerhouses.

The NCC’s strategy is to increase competition in the mobile sector and help bring mobile telecom services to the country’s rural, remote and underserved areas.

The continent’s most populous country has over 226 million mobile lines, but only 60% of the population has access to mobile internet, while just 4% of the population has access to 4G.

The new MVNOs are finalising their mobile business plans and will soon launch, aiming to deliver services on 4G and 5G while also dealing with legacy network disruption.

“MVNOs will help boost the country’s economy and reduce the digital divide by bringing connectivity and mobile services to all segments and all corners of the country, creating jobs − directly and indirectly − and democratising technology with new offers and competitive prices,” says Juan Carlos Buitrago, chief sales officer of JSC Ingenium.

“Their success will depend on having a differentiating mobile business strategy, with a flexible commercial model and state-of-the-art technology that allows them to distinguish themselves in value and compete on equal terms with other players in the sector.”

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