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MVNO: NCC licenses 25 new mobile operators

The EVC of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta

The Nigerians Communications Commission (NCC) has licensed 25 new companies to provide mobile telecommunications services under the Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) framework.

These companies will be providing the same services as MTN, Globacom, Airtel, and 9mobile, albeit on the same infrastructure built by the old operators. The entrance of the MNVO is expected to provide competitive offerings in the telecoms market and lower the costs of calls and data for subscribers.

Aside from lowering the cost of access to telecommunications services, NCC said the MVNOs would help to drive the government’s efforts to extend telecom services to more rural, under-served, and unserved communities across the country.

According to industry experts, by buying network capacity from Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), the MVNOs are able to swiftly rise in the market through a business model that passes these savings down to the consumer. They added that the MVNOs can also offer a more tailored-made service versus MNOs, which tend to offer more of a generic service that suits the masses.

The licensed companies

While the telecom regulators had created different categories of licences under the MVNO framework, which range from tier 1 to tier 5, TechTrackAfrica gathered that 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.

According to NCC’s database, 7 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 3 category are also 7 in number and they include Amics Technologies Limited; Zegtel Limited; Telewyz Limited; Siu Telecommunications Network; Abrindex Nigeria Limited; Metropolitan Consortium Nigeria Ltd; and IPNX Nigeria Limited. Those licensed as tier 4 operators include Imbil Telecoms Solutions Nig. Ltd; Environmental Expressions Limited; and DMK Telecommunication Nig. Ltd.

In the tier 5 category, 8 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.

Why NCC introduced MNVOs

Speaking at a forum recently, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said that pursuant to the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA 2003), Licensing Regulation 2019, and other subsidiary regulations, the commission through the MVNO, would create an enabling environment where various players provide diverse services based on licenses, issued by the commission.

  • “In its drive to create an enabling environment, the Commission has introduced an MVNOs licence that will generate employment and bridge the gap between the unserved and the underserved in society. It will also further engender competition and provide choices for telecommunication consumers,” Danbatta explained.

Explaining the difference between the 5 tiers of licence categories, Danbatta said:

  • “Tier1 is a virtual operator, which relies totally on hosts facilities with restricted tariff control; Tier 2 is sample facilities operator, which owns an intelligent network, and has loose tariff control; Tier 3 is care facilities operator which can negotiate interconnect agreements, has major tariff control; Tier 4 is a virtual aggregator/enabler, which performs aggregation and enabling but only operates in unserved regions and Tier 5 is the Unified Virtual Operator, which has the freedom to operate in the whole segments/tiers.”

Danbatta said the Nigerian market is reported to have the 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 prime opportunity for MVNOs to partner with these players therefore directing some revenue back to the MVNOs through wholesale agreements.


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