Nigeria grants 25 Mobile Virtual Network Operators licenses

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Nigerian Communications Authority (NCC)
Nigerian Communications Authority (NCC)

The Nigerian Communications Authority (NCC) has granted Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO) licenses to some 25 companies, setting the tone for MVNO operations in the largest West African country.

The licenses come almost two years after the NCC first announced plans to license MVNOs in the country to further deepen the state of telephony services in the country.

MVNO is a telecommunications product and service operator that rides on the infrastructure capacity of a fully-licensed mobile telecommunication service provider or mobile network operator (MNOs).

It means that these licensed companies will be providing the same services as MTN, Globacom, Airtel, and 9mobile. They need not to have any infrastructure as they can ride on the existing MNOs infrastructure in the country after a proper agreement must have been reached.

This development implies that the telecoms space would further be democratised, paving the way for improved service offerings and competitive pricing, especially around voice and data.

Though, NCC has not released an official statement yet, however, an online news platform, yesterday, noted that while the Commission had created different categories of licences under the MVNO framework, which range from tier 1 to tier 5, the 25 companies so far licensed are in categories 2 to 5, while no company has acquired a tier 1 licence, which is the lowest.

NCC database showed that seven companies were licensed in the tier 2 category and these include: Routelink Integrated Systems Ltd, Hazon Technologies Limited, Asel Telecom Nigeria Limited, Briclinks Africa Plc, Pisi Mobile Services Limited, Univasa Nigeria Limited and Imose Technologies Limited.

Companies licensed in the tier three category are also seven in number and they include: Amics Technologies Limited, Zegtel Limited, Telewyz Limited, Siu Telecommunications Network, Abrindex Nigeria Limited, Metropolitan Consortium Nigeria Limited and IPNX Nigeria Limited.

Those licensed as tier four operators include Imbil Telecoms Solutions Nig. Ltd, Environmental Expressions Limited and DMK Telecommunication Nigeria Ltd.

In the tier five category, eight companies were licensed. These include Systegra Technologies Limited; Choffan Communications Limited, Mab Consultant and Associates Ltd, H & Y Business Global Limited, Taima Technologies Ltd, Global Communication Extension Services Ltd, USKS Ventures International Ltd and Paribas Communication Limited.

Further, through the issuance of the MNVO licence to the 25 companies, the telecoms regulator generated not less than N5.9 billion for the government in licensing fees. According to the framework released by the NCC, the 10-year tenured MNVO licences come at different prices.

The highest in the categories, the tier-five licence costs N500 million, while tier four goes for N200 million. Both the tier-three and tier-four licences cost N130 million and N60 million respectively, while the tier-one licence is to be issued at N35 million.

Speaking at the first “Talk-To-The Regulator” Forum (TTTR) for the Year 2023 in Bayelsa, the Commission’s EVC, Prof Umar Danbatta, hinted at the readiness to begin MVNO services in the country.

In his words: “To keep up to date with developments in the industry, the Commission has equally taken measures to improve regulations to accommodate the rapid and continuous development. Some of the interventions and responses of the Commission include but are not limited to facilitating the roll-out of 5G Service provision, and the introduction of a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) Licence to bridge the gap between unserved and underserved areas.

On the MVNO, Danbatta said the Nigerian market is reported to have a demand for differentiated services with lots of gaps in several sectors, especially mobile to fixed market, M2M, B2B, and rural networks.

While calling for more industry collaboration, the NCC EVC averred that the growing concern of over-the-top (OTT) players eating into operator’s ARPU offers a prime opportunity for MVNOs to partner with these players, therefore, directing some revenue back to the MVNOs through wholesale agreements.

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