More Woes For MTN As NCC Queries NBC Deal

NCC head office, Abuja
NCC head office, Abuja
THERE are indications that one of Nigeria’s major global mobile satellite communications service providers, MTN, may face gloomier prospects this year.
This is because the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), has distanced itself from the controversial N34b license deal the company struck with the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) over the use of the 700 mega-hertz spectrum.
The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Professor Umar Dambatta, disclosed this in the latest edition of the commission’s newsletter, where he declared that the NBC-MTN deal was done without the involvement of the NCC.
Dambatta hinted that his commission would seek arbitration and mediation through the Frequency Management Council, which is the highest authority on the management of spectrum.
Prof. Dambatta was quoted in the publication as saying that the 700MHz spectrum shouldn’t have been auctioned by the NBC, adding that the spectrum was a telecommunication spectrum that is very important for broadband penetration.
“We do not intend to join issues with them (NBC) but we intend to avail ourselves of existing mechanism for arbitration and mediation through the Frequency Management Council”, he allegedly held.
Additionally, stakeholders in the industry noted that by this development, NBC faces more strident criticism of the N34b spectrum sale.
The Digital Switch Over project’s rescheduled takeoff date in
2017 is being threatened by alleged lack of transparency in NBC’s handling of the transition arrangements, especially the N34b MTN spectrum deal.
One of the stakeholders, Chief Abel Danladi, reacted to the NCC’s disapproval of the N34b MTN spectrum deals at a press conference in Kaduna.
Danladi urged the Federal Government to urgently uphold the national interest in the process leading to the June 2017 date for Digital Switch Over by ensuring that the Emeka Mba-led NBC reverts to compliance with the spectrum policy on 700 mgHz as well as procurement transparency.
He said NCC’s reaction to the N34b MTN-NBC deal provided additional indication of the undue influence and interference of the South African telecom and broadcast monopolists in the nation’s digital broadcast industry in order to acquire domineering leverage comparable to their ownership and control of the GSM and cable TV sector in Nigeria.
“The unfolding intransigence of the MTN over the brazen violation of the NCC policy on deactivation of pre-registered and unregistered lines, which earned it a hefty fine necessitates national security concerns and measures to reserve the commanding heights of all strategic business operations for Nigerian investors,” Danbatta suggested.
He commended the NCC for its principled stance and called for investigations into the circumstances surrounding the N34b MTN-NBC deals in the interest of transparency and accountability and the present administration’s anti-corruption policy.

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