Telecoms

Airtel Nigeria pays NCC $189m to renew license

One of the leading telecommunications operators in Nigeria, Airtel, has paid the sum of $189 million to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to renew its operating license in the country. With this, the company whose current license expires November this year has secured the nod of the government to operate in Nigeria for another 10 years.

Airtel was issued a Universal Access Service License (UASL) in 2006, which is to expire on 30-November 2021. Announcing the renewal through a statement released yesterday, the parent body of the Nigerian unit, Airtel Africa, said the NCC has approved the renewal of spectrum licenses in 900 and 1800 Megahertz (MHZ) for its subsidiary Airtel Nigeria. Spectrums are radio frequencies allocated to mobile industries and other sectors for communication over the airwaves.

Airtel Nigeria is the largest operating unit of Airtel Africa, which operates in 14 countries. According to the Group’s Chief Executive Officer, Raghunath Mandava, the license renewal followed an application to the telecoms regulator.  He added that NCC subsequently offered the telco the opportunity to renew its spectrum licenses for a period of 10 years with effect from Dec. 1, 2021, until Nov. 30, 2031, which the company accepted.

Mandava added that under the terms of the spectrum licenses, Airtel Nigeria had paid N 71.6 billion ($189m) in respect of the license renewal fees. “I am pleased to announce that our application in Nigeria to renew our spectrum licenses in the 900MHz and 1800MHz bands for a 10-year period, has been approved by the NCC.

“This is our largest market and we remain focused on bridging the digital divide and expanding our broadband capability in the country. On behalf of Airtel Nigeria and the Group, I would like to thank both the government of Nigeria and the NCC for their cooperation and support in this important process,” he said.

Meanwhile, there are strong indications that MTN Nigeria, the largest operator by subscribers, may have also commenced the process of renewing its license with the NCC.  MTN’s operating spectrum, which was issued along with the digital-mobile license in 2001 had an original expiry date of February 2016. The company, however, paid the sum of $94.2 million in 2015 to secure the license for the 900MHz and 1800MHz frequency bands and the extension for another five years. The five-year license expires on August 31, 2021, according to NCC’s database.

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