THE Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) may soon relocate troubled Private Telephony Operators (PTOs) otherwise known as Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) operators to a new frequency spectrum band.
NCC Executive Vice Chairman, Dr. Eugene Juwah, gave the hint in Lagos yesterday at the fourth West Africa Information and Communications Technology (WAFICT) congress.
Juwah said the move was aimed at freeing up more spectrum, which is said to be at present scarce for telecommunications services, adding that there was need for requisite spectrum allocations aimed at deepening broadband services to Nigerian population.
Two years ago, the CDMA operators, including Starcomms Plc, Visafone, Multilinks, Reltel Communications among others had faced serious challenges, which led to the loss of four million active lines, which according to telecoms analysts, would have cost them N4 billion loss.
The CDMA challenges saw Telkoms South Africa pulling out of its 100 per cent equity stake from Multilinks in 2010, describing the Nigerian market as not being business friendly.
The NCC boss explained that the spectrum band between 790-862 MHz is being occupied by the CDMA players, adding that their relocation to Long Term Evolution (LTE) frequencies would release more spectrums for improved broadband services and GSM operations.
“We have asked CDMA players who have tiny frequencies (5 up, 5 down) which cannot do much on LTE to upgrade. We have said if they are prepared to upgrade, the Commission will re-farm these frequencies and give them a higher slot in terms of capacity to provide value services, but they must do LTE. A lot of them are already considering it. Very soon, CDMAs will have difficulty finding appropriate handsets because technology is changing. As they begin to realise this, CDMAs will begin to plan for LTE,” he stated.
The NCC boss explained that this migration would not require any form of licensing from the Commission.
Juwah told participants at the forum that the Commission was willing to provide necessary financial incentives to CDMA operators in order to facilitate this migration.