MTN plans Nigerian LTE after 2.6GHz auction win

30 June 2016 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

MTN has agreed to pay the equivalent of $67 million for 2.6GHz spectrum in Nigeria, enabling it to build a nationwide LTE service.

At the same time the company has paid the latest $106 million tranche of its renegotiated $1.67 billion fine, taking the total payment so far to $283 million.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the country’s regulator, has given MTN a letter of award confirming the spectrum win, said Ferdi Moolman, CEO of MTN Nigeria.

“With the 2.6 GHz band, we expect to roll out and provide the full range of LTE services to Nigerians, empowering Nigeria with the latest mobile broadband technology,” he said.

MTN was the sole approved bidder for the auction, the company admitted. As a result the NCC awarded just 2 × 30MHz of spectrum in the band, instead of the 2 × 70MHz that was on offer.

MTN said that existing 4G services in Nigeria were restricted to large cities. “MTN’s success in this auction is a big boost to its plan to deliver global mobile broadband and LTE 4G services to over 60 million customers in Nigeria,” said the company.

The company plans to use a mixture of frequency division duplexing (FDD) on the spectrum in addition to its existing WiMax-based time division duplexing (TDD) technology.

“MTN is fully aligned and supports the NCC’s objective to deliver broadband services to present and future generations of subscribers, in line with the National Broadband Plan of 2013,” said Moolman.

“MTN continues to believe in Nigeria and we have expressed this belief in the level of our investment, which currently stands at approximately $15 billion and counting. We strongly believe that there is need for significant levels of investment in broadband infrastructure and services to truly launch Nigeria into the information age. We are honoured to be the arrowhead.”

He added that he was “delighted that the matter of the fine imposed by the NCC was amicably settled in the interest of all parties”.

Meanwhile Moolman – who was promoted from CFO to CEO in December 2015 – has appointed Adekunle Awobodu as the new CFO, the first Nigerian to hold the position. He joined MTN in 2002 and has been CFO of MTN Iran.