Business News of Wed, 12 Sep 20182

NCA invites applications for three 4G spectrum slots

The National Communications Authority (NCA) has released a roadmap for the sale of the remaining spectrum slot in the 800MHz band that was left after MTN bought one for $67.5 million in December 2015.

In a statement on its website, the NCA is, therefore, inviting applicants to vie for the available slots in an auction slated for a later date.

The deadline for the submission of applications is 5 pm 0n October 8, 2018, and the whole process is expected to finish by December 23, 2018.

MTN's slot was a 2x10MHz but the NCA has divided the remaining one into two 2x5MHz slots plus an additional 2x5MHz harvested from the digital migration to make it affordable for interested parties.

Meanwhile, MTN and others who already have slots in the 800MHz band are excluded from this auction.

The rules are that the NCA will give a minimum asking price and the top three highest bidders will go into negotiation with the NCA to determine the final sale price.

However, if by close of the deadline, there are no bids, the NCA will invite an existing holder of slots in the 800MHz band, like MTN, to make an offer and then negotiate and final licensing fee for the spectra.

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This move comes a little over a month after NCA boss, Joe Anokye, announced that the Authority will soon issue a plan that will level the playing field in the 4G space.

Below is the full statement spelling out the roadmap for the auction

NATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS AUTHORITY RELEASES ROADMAP AND INVITES APPLICATIONS FOR SALE OF SPECTRUM IN THE 800MHz BAND (DIGITAL DIVIDEND)

The National Communications Authority (NCA) has released the Roadmap for the sale of Spectrum in the 800 MHz Band and is inviting applications from eligible Entities registered under the Ghana Companies Code, 1963, Act 179 for the grant of a licence to establish, maintain and operate Mobile Services in the 800 MHz band.

The objectives for this sale:

• Making valuable spectrum available for the provision of mobile data and voice services to improve access and service quality whilst facilitating the diffusion of information and communication technologies in enhancing the socio-economic development of the country.

• Generating revenue for the State to cover some of the costs of the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting including the cost of rolling out a nationwide DTT network to carry programme channels of the state broadcaster and other private Free-to-Air (FTA) terrestrial TV stations.

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• Providing a means of growth for existing internet data service providers and to facilitate the attainment of universal access to internet data services.

• Providing opportunities for participation by indigenous Ghanaians in the telecom industry.

It will be recalled that in 2015, the Authority undertook an auction and sold off one Block of Spectrum in the 800MHz band which was acquired by MTN Ghana.

Although the initial Spectrum Auction in 2015 made available two (2) Blocks of 2 x 10 out of which one (1) Block was sold, the Authority, this time, would make available three (3) Blocks of 2 x 5MHz. Applicants can bid for up to two lots of 2x5MHz.

The earlier 2015 Auction was also done in line with the principles of fairness as the Auction was opened to all existing operators and new entrants. The process, this time, will not be done through an auction but through a competitive tendering process.

In the initial request for application, the Authority would offer 3 lots of 2x5MHz each to all interested entities (excluding entities who already hold any part of the 800 MHz band) at a determined NCA Asking Price (NAP). Applicants will be required to make their Best Price Offer (BPO) in relation to the NAP. The BPOs will be ranked after which the Authority will negotiate with the top three (3) to determine the negotiated Licence Fee. The Authority’s asking price for the spectrum was derived from the value of the last auction.

In the event that negotiations with all applicants are unsuccessful, the Authority will conclude the process and invite the operator with an existing assignment in the 800MHz band to make an offer for the available lots after which the Authority will negotiate licence fee which shall be greater than or equal to the fee that the applicants failed to match during the unsuccessful negotiations.

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The sale of the spectrum, the NCA believes, would give all entities and Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) who elect to be part of this process, the opportunity to have some spectrum to offer Competitive services and strengthen the playing field in line with the principles of fairness.

The Roadmap for the sale of the three (3) available slots in the 800 MHz Band is as follows:

The sale of the Spectrum is in line with Section 58 of Electronic Communications Act 2008, Act 775 on Spectrum Management which highlights the NCA’s mandate and the options for Frequency Assignment:

• Section 58(3) of Act 775 states that The Authority shall allocate the uses of the spectrum of the electronic communications sector in a manner that promotes the economic and orderly utilisation of frequencies by electronic communications networks and services.

• Section 58(8) of the Act 775 provides options for the award of frequency to applicants through auction, tender, at a fixed price, or based on stated criteria.

The NCA is optimistic that the approach taken will offer existing service providers the opportunity to acquire portions of the 800 MHz to give their customers enhanced services and create choices within the ecosystem. The Authority will ensure that the Spectrum is sold within the shortest possible timeframe to raise funds for Government, through the Ministry of Communications to complete the DTT Migration.

Any amendments to the Roadmap and updates will be duly communicated to the general public.

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The deadline for receipt of Applications is on or before 5:00 p.m. on 8th October 2018.

The document for the Request for Applications for Spectrum Licences in the 800MHz Band can be picked up from the Front Desk of the NCA Offices nationwide. Please see overleaf the list of NCA offices.

It is expected that the process will be concluded by 23rd December 2018.

Source: Samuel Dowuona

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