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xxxxxxxxxxx of Saturday, 24 October 2015

Source: Samuel Dowuona

NCA to declare digital dividend license winners November 25th

The National Communication Authority says it will auction the two spectrum slots in the 800MHz digital dividend band between November 18 and 24, and declare winners on November 25 this year.

The two spectrum slots, which are good for 4G LTE service, are going for US$67milion each, plus GHS200,000 non-refundable auction entry fee.

The NCA offering the two slots to two different winners for both data and voice service and both are required to be locally registered and with at least 35 per cent Ghanaian private ownership.

The interested sprite asked for more time so the NCA has also extended the deadline for submission of applications to November 9 and also extended the license period from 10 years to 15 years before renewal.

These were contained in an update on the auction of the two slots of 2x10MHz spectrum bands within the 800MHz band harvested from Ghana's transition from analogue to digital television regime, in line with the global digital terrestrial transition (DTT).

The NCA invited inputs from interested persons as part of a pre-auction public consultation process, and nine entities responded, out of which five requested for some amendments.

It was in response to those requests that the NCA extended the deadline for submission of bids to exactly 5pm on November 9, 2015 and also extended the licensing period.

The NCA had also mandated the eventual license winner to provide coverage for all 216 district capitals within six years of the license award, but upon requests from the telcos in particular, the regulator said it will take a second look at that requirement.

Indeed, the telcos noted that after investing heavily to provide 3G coverage in some district capitals, to meet the NCA coverage obligation, the resource is not being used in several of those areas as expected.

The NCA therefore said it will reconsider that coverage obligation under this new license and determine a reasonable one on the basis of population density, existing coverage of licensees services, views of the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic
Communications and views of the eventual licensees.

Telcos also requested for the 35 per cent minimum Ghanaian shareholding in a license to be reduced to 10 per cent, but the NCA refused to budge on that.

The regulator also maintained the minimum auction reserve price at US$67million, despite calls for the amount to be further reduced and for it to be quoted in cedis instead of dollars.

Interested persons are required to pay a refundable 10 per cent of the minimum price by November 16, 2015 and the eventual license winner would be required to pay the full tender price it offered by February 23, 2016.

The regulator says failure to meet deadlines means the licensee would forfeit the initial 10 per cent paid, and a breach of auction rules would also lead to a forfeiture of same. The auction rules would be spelt out to participants prior to the auction.

So far the entities which have showed interest in the spectrum are Airtel Ghana, Vodafone Ghana, Tigo Ghana, MTN Ghana, and the existing Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) licensees, namely Surfline Communications, Blu Telecoms, Goldkey Telecoms and Broadband Home.