The Tight race to 5G Network Connectivity: How MTN and MAFAB wins bid while AIRTEL back down

MTN Nigeria and MAFAB Communications Limited have won the bid for the 5G network technology auctioned by the Nigerian government on Monday, 13th Dec 2021, while AIRTEL loses the round. 

The Nigerian Communications Commission conducted the auction event at the Transcorp Hotel in Abuja for the two available slots for the 3.5 GHz spectrum in the country. Three Telecom giants keenly contested for the spot and two came out as Victor. Unfortunately Etisalat and Glo did not make the cut and their subscribers would have to hold on a little to have the 5G technology experience.

Needless to say that on September 8, 2021 the race to the 5G network spectrum officially started in Nigeria. 

The Honorable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) made the official announcement of the approval by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

Following this approval, the Minister directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to commence immediate implementation of the 5G plan for the country.

The roll-out of the 5G technology which will be carried out in phases beginning with major cities in the country “where there is need for high quality broadband,” according to the Minister. 

5g network

Moving forward the Nigerian Communication Commission called for bidders in which MTN Nigeria, MAFAB Communications Limited and Airtel Networks Limited all participated using the Ascending Clock Auction System to ensure an open, credible, transparent and fair competitive bid in an historic race for the soul of 5G in Nigeria.

The three telecom companies entered into the bidding room after participating in an opening round to express their interest.

There was a heavy presence of The State Security Service (SSS) who ensured a smooth and secured auction process and also monitored the representatives of the telecom companies that there were no discrepancies throughout the procedure. 

The 5G network Auction Process

The auction for the 5G Technology spectrum in Nigeria occurred in two distinct stages: 

The Main stage and the Assignment stage. The first round of the auction started with the three bidders at the reserved price of $197.4 million set by the commission, it then increased to $199.3 million until it ended at $263 million.

Airtel Networks pulled out at the main stage leaving MTN and MAFAB COMMUNICATIONS as the winners of the bid which ended with the total sum of $273.6 million 

The NCC’s Executive-Chairman, Professor Umar Danbatta announced the winners of the auction

It is my pleasure to announce that at the end of the auction, Mafab Communications Limited and MTN Communications Nigeria Limited emerged as provisional license winners.

Prof. Umar Danbatta

Danbatta also mentioned that the commission followed due process for the bidding and that the winners were expected to make payment by February 24, 2022.

He congratulated the two winners and thanked the federal government for its unwavering support and commitment to the deployment of 5G technology in Nigeria.

Nigeria to have the widest 5G spectrum in Africa

Also at the auction event, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, said Nigeria is hoping to have the widest 5G in Africa in 2022.

The Minister said this at the auction of the 3.5 gigahertz (Ghz) spectrum.

Danbatta added that the NCC would continue to deepen broadband penetration, protect the consumers and the smart deployment of infrastructure across the country.

However Mr Pantami said he believes 5G technology can solve some of the serious security challenges in the country, since the technology provides real time services and platforms.

“Let us not forget that Nigeria has the largest digital economy in Africa, Nigeria has the largest telecommunications market in Africa, Nigeria has the largest internet subscribers in Africa, Nigeria has the largest broadband and we hope that by 2022, Nigeria will have the widest 5G coverage in Africa,” he said.

“It is because of this and looking at the general benefits of the 5G deployment globally, Nigeria as a country, being the giant of Africa, feels it is necessary for us to kickstart the process of 5G deployment

What is 5g technology?

The 5G network is the fifth generation technology standard for broadband cellular networks. It offers enormous advantages with data speeds up to 100 times faster than 4G and lower latency.

It can also support up to 1 million connected devices per square kilometer, compared to up to 100,000 for 4G networks. The 5G network speed is said to advance the next phase of the digital era.

Countries with 5G network in Africa

According to new stats from the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA), it shows that there are about 18 African countries that are testing or rolling out 5G spectrum. 

MTN and Vodacom were the first to launch 5G in Africa, making South Africa the first African country with a 5G network, Safaricom also launched a 5G network in Kenya, making it the second country in Africa to roll out the 5G technology.

Telecommunications companies in five other African countries—Gabon, Lesotho, Nigeria, Uganda, Egypt and Morocco are also preparing for testing and launch.

In addition, South Korea, China, and the United States are the leading countries with 5G network.

Around 413 operators in 131 countries or territories are also investing in 5G networks in the form of tests, trials, pilots, and planned and actual deployments.

For now there are at least 144 commercial 5G networks present globally with more to come.

If you enjoy this article, kindly share on your WhatsApp groups, Telegram and other social media platforms. Thank you.

Leave a Comment