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5G rollout: MTN ready, Mafab likely to miss Wednesday date as NCC gives 5 months grace


Mafab Communications Limited will miss the Nigerian Communications Commission 5G rollout commencement date of August 24, 2022.

This is as the Commission grants it a five-month extension to roll out 5G services in the nation following delays in receiving its Unified Access Service Licence and Numbering plan, which was not granted until the end of July.

While speaking at the 90th Edition of Telecom Consumer Parliament, the Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta has declared the commencement date.

He said, “The final letters of award have been issued to MTN and Mafab Communications, which emerged winners of the 3.5GHz Spectrum auction conducted on Dec. 13, 2021.

“In line with the information memorandum, the licensees are expected to commence rollout of 5G services effective from Aug. 24, 2022.

“The successful completion of the process leading to the final letters is confirmation that the rollout of 5G technology services in Nigeria is on course.”

In a statement, Chairman, Mafab, Musbahu Bashir, was quoted as saying, “We are fully committed to bringing the benefits of 5G services to Nigerians and deploying a network that will drive economic development with increased broadband capabilities Nationwide.

“I have no doubt that the service will help deliver improvements in the fields of education, business, smart cities and entertainment. The goal remains to launch before the 5-month extension period, and we will be sharing more information in the near future.”

Based on this development, MTN Nigeria will be only telecommunication firm to roll-out 5G services based on the NCC’s timeline. In line with the conditions of the 5G licence, licencees were expected to commence the rollout of 5G services from August 24, 2022.

The NCC’s Director of Public Affairs, Reuben Muoka, confirmed the development to our correspondent. When asked, he said, “Yes, it is true.”

Recall that MTN Nigeria and Mafab Nigeria Communications Limited won the NCC’s auction for its two available lots of 100 MHz TDD slots of 3.5 GHz band for the deployment of 5G network in the country.

The two telcos won the auction at $273.6m each for the available lots, beating Airtel in the process. At the time of winning the auction, Mafab did not have UASL, which was a requirement to operate a 5G network in the nation.

According to the NCC, any winner without a UASL would need to acquire it at an additional fee of N374.6m.

While speaking to a few correspondents on the sidelines of the NCC’s Stakeholders Consultative Forum on Emerging Technologies in July, the technical adviser to Mafab, Kingsley Uwazie, confirmed that getting an operational licence was crucial to the firm’s rollout plan.



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