The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) has placed a reserve price of US$150 million on its Third Generation (3G) licence that it plans to issue in seven categories through public auction from April 2, this year.

NCC's Head of Public Affairs, Dave Imoko, disclosed in Abuja that the licence to be offered include universal access, digital mobile, fixed wireless access, and metropolitan fibre cable network licenses.

Other spectrum on the card were the national carrier and the private network link licenses. He explained that bidders have up to Feb. 16, to submit their letters of interest, but warned that companies applying for the licence must have no link whatsoever.

Imoko said the adoption of the auction process in the issuance of the licence was to ensure fairness and promote competition among existing telecommunication operators in the country. The issuance of the 3G licence has been limited to existing GSM operators and is expected to enhance the quality of GSM services and reduce tariffs on subscribers.

The spectrum blocks to be made available for auction include the 40MHz of spectrum within the 2GHz band. The Commission, according to him, would offer the spectrum as four paired blocks of 10 MHz.

Spectrum pairs, he added, would be separated by a 90MHz duplex spacing. "Blocks will be allocated as follows, Block A:1920-1930MHz paired with 2110-2120 MHz, Block B: 1930-1940MHz, paired with 2120-2130MHz, Block C: 1940-1950, paired with 2130-2140MHz and Block D: 1950-1960MHz paired with 2140-2150MHz."

The statement added that "Spectrum will be allocated on a service and technology neutral basis without the specification of guard bands. Licensees will be required to co-ordinate spectrum use to avoid interference.

"However, applicants according to the notice will not be required to submit financial or technical plans in the pre-qualification process, except details of company ownership structure and confirmation of compliance with the rules of the auction.

"To participate in the auction, a bidder must be a limited liability company incorporated in Nigeria and must not be involved with any other bidder.

"A Consortia according to the statement may bid for a licence subject to the requirement that they include a Nigerian telecommunications licensee. Bidders will also be required to lodge a $15million dollars (i.e.10% of Reserve Price) Intention to Bid Deposit with the Commission.

The auctioning process will commence on the second of April following the receipt of the expression of interest on February 16, while issue of information memorandum a week later.

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