Four new firms have secured unified licences from the Nigerian Communications Commission, bringing to eight the number of telecommunications companies in the country granted similar licences. A unified licence gives an operator the freedom to offer mobile, fixed and any other telecommunications service to its subscribers.

MTN, VGC Communications Limited, Dan Jay Telecoms Limited and Boudex Telecoms had all secured the unified licences from the NCC. The Head Public Affairs of the NCC, Dave Imoko, confirmed the licensing of the four new firms. Starcomms, Intercellular, Multi Links and Prestel had earlier got the licences from NCC when it was introduced in April.

Among the conditions to be met by an operator to qualify for a unified licence include: having an existing and operating network infrastructure, a customer base of at least 10,000 connected subscribers or justifiable evidence of financial capability for substantial network rollout and being up-to-date on submission of annual audited accounts.

In addition, the applicant must be up-to-date on payment of company tax, must be up-to-date with equipment type approval and in settlement of interconnection obligations. With this development, MTN thus becomes the first GSM operator to secure a unified licence. Given the criteria issued by the NCC, GSM operators were favoured to pick the licences ahead of other.

However, the introduction of the Unified Access licence by the NCC in March saw Fixed Wireless Access operators taking the lead primarily due to their desire to offer roaming services on their fixed wireless services.

The award of the licence to VGCCL seem to have confirmed the firm’s intention to become a major player in the telecommunications sector, having earlier secured a national wire line licence in addition to rolling out services in three states-Lagos, Abuja and Rivers. With the development, Aba-based Boudex Telecoms becomes the first operator to secure unified license in the Eastern parts of the country.

The regulatory body said the provision of services under the new Unified Licensing regime will be subject to the geographical limitations contained in the existing licenceHowever it added that “expansion to other regions can be allowed subject to availability of spectrum.”

At the expiration of the exclusivity period granted the digital mobile operators in February 2006, the NCC adopted a Unified Licensing regime after wide consultations with stakeholders.

Online Nigeria