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9mobile, Airtel Reject Transfer of Visafone’s Spectrum to MTN

By Dipo Olowookere

Two of the four leading GSM service providers in Nigeria, 9mobile and Airtel, have warned the industry’s regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), against transferring the 800MHz spectrum earlier allocated to Visafone Communications to MTN Nigeria.

Over two years ago, MTN acquired Visafone Communications and the firm wants the spectrum transferred to it as the new owner.

But 9mobile and Airtel are against this move, fearing it could give MTN Nigeria an undue advantage or even result in monopoly.

At an event organized today in Abuja by the NCC, both telcos said it would be a very wrong move to transfer the spectrum to MTN because it could spell doom to the nation.

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A representative of Airtel Nigeria at the forum, Mr Lucky Ubani, argued that giving his company’s main competitor the spectrum would give MTN market dominance beyond voice segment.

For the rep of 9mobile, Chidozie Arinze, the spectrum should not be transferred to MTN at the detriment of other operators because spectrum is a scarce national resource.

But MTN’s senior manager, regulatory affairs and corporate relations, Mr Johnson Oyewo, disagreed with 9mobile and Airtel, saying their conclusions were based on presumptions and lack of data.

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He said the desire for the acquisition of the 800MHz spectrum was not driven by selfishness but to help the country achieve its 30% broadband coverage by end of 2018.

According to him, “We want to help the Rural Telephony Project at large; it is Nigeria that will benefit from it.

“We see a greater good. We urge the commission that this assessment should not only be based on competition but also on the interest of the consumer and the economy; what that translate is that there will be a direct impact on the GDP,” he was quoted by NAN as saying.

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On his part, Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Mr Umar Danbatta, said the commission held the forum to get comments from stakeholders to enable it to draw beneficial contributions from their wealth of experience.

He said the commission was determined to provide qualitative services to subscribers.

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Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan.

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