Spectrum fees exorbitant, Airtel tells NCC
A leading mobile telecommunications operator, Airtel, has asked the Nigerian Communications Commission to review its spectrum pricing template in line with prevailing economic situation in the country.
Airtel made the call in response to the NCC invitation to stakeholders to submit comments and observations on its licensing proposal for 38GHz and 42GHz spectrum bands as well as re-planning of 23GHz spectrum band.
In its submission obtained from the NCC’s web portal on Sunday, Airtel urged the regulatory agency to review spectrum fees and pricing to reflect the present economic realities.
The company stated, “Airtel respectfully requests for the review of the commission’s Frequency Spectrum (Fees and Pricing Amendment) Regulation 2009 considering the high cost of microwave frequency when compared with jurisdictions with similar economic indices and the prevailing economic situation in the country.”
In response, the NCC said the concern on spectrum fees review had been noted. It, however, added that spectrum fees were calculated using the appropriate band and bandwidth factors. It stressed that the pricing was in line with the Nigeria Communications Act, 2003.
The NCC had recently sold a broadband frequency, 2.6GHz, which was only applied for by MTN Nigeria Communications Limited. Operators had largely shunned the frequency sale because the starting price was believed to be exorbitant.
Airtel also told the NCC to be cautious of the fact that the International Telecommunications Union had proposed the frequencies it planned to sell (38GHz and 42GHz spectrum bands) for International Mobile Telecommunication.
The operator, therefore, urged the regulatory agency to reserve some portion of the spectrum for the IMT should it go ahead with the planned sale of the spectrum.
According to the ITU, the initial set of the IMT standards approved was called the IMT-2000. Recently, however, the global telecommunications standards body approved the IMT-Advanced standard and added that it would keep progressing the upgrade for the next generation of the technologies.
The IMT-Advanced systems are broadband mobile systems that include the new capabilities of the IMT that go beyond those of the IMT-2000. Such systems provide access to a wide range of telecommunication services including advanced mobile services, supported by mobile and fixed networks, which are increasingly packet-based, according to the ITU.
It explained that the IMT-Advanced systems supported low to high mobility applications and a wide range of data rates in accordance with user and service demands in multiple user environments.
The IMT Advanced also had capabilities for high quality multimedia applications within a wide range of services and platforms, providing a significant improvement in performance and quality of service, it added.