NCC suspends new licence issuance to operators

By Stanley Iwuoha

The Nigerian Communication Commission has announced a temporary suspension of new licence issuance to operators in three categories.

They include: Mobile Virtual Network Operator Licence, Interconnect Exchange Licence and Value Added Service Aggregator Licence.

A virtual operator is a company that does not own a mobile spectrum licence but sells mobile services under its brand name using the network of a licensed mobile operator. Currently, there are at least 25 operators.

The Interconnect Exchange Licence is a network facility that enables the interconnection of more than two independent connecting entities to facilitate the transfer of electronic communications.

While VAS aggregators are non‐core network telecommunication services which are beyond standard voice calls.

These services include internet, directory service, paging service, voice mail and prepaid calling card service, call centre services, content services, and vehicle tracking.

According to the Commission, the decision to suspend those licenses was in line with its powers under the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 to grant, renew licenses and promote fair competition.

The commission, in a public notice posted on its X handle on Friday, said the temporary suspension is to enable a thorough review of several key areas of market saturation, competition level and current market dynamics.

The notice titled, “Temporary Suspension Of The Issuance Of Communications Licences In Three Categories” was signed by the Director, Public Affairs Department, Nigerian Communications Commission, Reuben Muoka.

The notice read, “In line with its powers under the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 to grant and renew licenses, promote fair competition and develop the Communications Industry, the Nigerian Communications Commission (The Commissions) hereby informs all stakeholders of a temporary suspension on issuance of new licenses in the following categories, Interconnect Exchange License, Mobile Virtual Network Operator License and Value Added Service Aggregator License.

“This temporary suspension is necessary to enable the commission to conduct a thorough review of several key areas within these categories, including the current level of competition, market saturation and current market dynamics.”

It, however, noted that the new directive doesn’t affect pending applications which would be considered based on merit.

“The public is invited to note that during the suspension period commencing on 17th of May, 2024, new applications for the aforementioned licenses will not be accepted. This is without prejudice to pending applications before the Commission which will be considered on its merits.

“Any enquires of clarification in respect of this Suspension Notice should be forwarded to:,” the statement read,” said the Çommission.

Recall that in recent times, the telecommunications sector has been faced with a myriad of issues raising concerns about sustainability and efficient service delivery amid ongoing economic challenges.

Record high inflation has reduced purchasing power and a currency devaluation has cut margins.

These challenges are exacerbated by the issue of multiple taxation and regulations and prohibitive right-of-way charges, inadequate electric power supply, and vandalism of telecommunications infrastructure.

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