Airtel Nigeria loses out of 5G race as MTN, Mafab secure $27.02m spectrum license

Airtel Networks Limited, the Nigerian subsidiary of Bharti Airtel, lost out of the 5G network race in Nigeria, with MTN Nigeria and Mafab Communications Limited securing the 3.5 GHz spectrum license.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) had organised an auction for the three telecoms firms on Monday in Abuja. The auction got to 11 round, with the companies bidding as much as $275,904,886.25.

It was gathered that the initial bid entry fee for round one was raised by the auction manager from $197,400,00 to $199,374,000 before the bid started.

Airtel Nigeria dropped out in the eleventh round, leaving MTN Nigeria and Mafab Communications to battle for the final round, called assignment stage.

During the assignment stage, both companies were expected to submit another bid for their preferred spectrum, resolve any possible conflicts and decide when payment would be made.

MTN Nigeria offered $15,900,000 for the first slot which is 3500-3600mhz, while Mafab Communications paid for the second slot of 3700-3800mhz worth $11,120,000.

This means Airtel Nigeria will miss out on the first set of telcos to launch 5G network to their subscribers, and risk losing their users in search of the new generation network to MTN and Mafab.

By February 24, 2022, both MTN and Mafab will pay for the 5G spectrum auction.

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