The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has debunked rumors of renewing MTN’s unified access service license for the next 10 years. The refutal was made after an online publication claiming the regulatory body website as its source stated “MTN Nigeria, the nation’s largest mobile network operator (MNO), has secured regulatory approval of the renewal of its operating license for another 10 years with effect from September 1, 2021.” was made. NCC claims that the publication was false and misleading.
The unified licensing as it is called was introduced by the commission in February 2015. The unified license is a means of allows existing fixed wireless and mobile licensees to provide both services subject to geographical/regional limitations contained in their license. The introduction of unified licensing after the exclusivity period meant that all wireless licenses shall not be segmented in terms of mobile and fixed service categories. Once a spectrum is allocated, licensed operators in the category will be free to offer voice, data, or multimedia services as they deem fit.
The 10-year operating license for MTN would have come into effect starting from September 1st, 2021, and expires on August 31st, 2031 according to updates found on the commission’s website. The debunked rumors about MTN Nigeria’s license renewal comes as the Nigerian telecoms industry marks the 20th anniversary of the commercial launch of digital mobile services as far back as August 2001 by Econet Wireless Nigeria (now Airtel Nigeria) and MTN Nigeria, following the licensing rounds of January 2001 in which NCC sold each license at $285M.
Ikechukwu Adinde, NCC director of public affairs, did not reply to inquiries seeking clarifications on the adjustment on the commission’s website. However, the commission has admitted to MTN has applied for the renewal of the Unified Access Service License ((UASL). In a recent statement issued by NCC “The Commission wishes to state that, while MTN Nigeria has applied for the renewal of the Unified Access Service License granted to it by the Commission, the application is yet to be approved as it is still undergoing required regulatory processes. NCC added, “This statement is issued for the guidance of our general stakeholders.”