Nigeria renews MTN licence


A little bit of good news after a really tough week for MTN, the Nigerian telecoms watchdog has renewed the mobile phone operator’s licence until 31 August 2021. By Gugu Lourie

The Nigerian Communications Commission has approved the renewal,and extension of the tenure of MTN’s operating spectrum in the 900MHz and 1800MHz frequency bands.

“With this renewal and extension, MTN’s operating spectrum which was issued along with the Digital Mobile License (DML) in 2001 (with an original expiry date of February 2016), has now been extended to 31 August 2021,” MTN informed investors on Tuesday.

The South Africa-based operator would pay $94,2 million  (R1.3 billion) as a spectrum fee for the 5-year extension period by no later than 31 December 2015 and conditional upon MTN fulfilling all its regulatory obligations.

In February 2001, the NCC issued DML’s to three mobile operators. The licenses were bundled with spectrum in the 900MHz and 1800MHz frequency bands. Amongst other authorisations, MTN also holds a Unified Access License and a 3G Spectrum License through which it provides a full bouquet of digital services to its customers throughout Nigeria.

MTN told shareholders last week Monday that “the NCC has imposed a fine equivalent to $5.2 billion (R71 billion) on MTN Nigeria”.

“This fine relates to the timing of the disconnection of 5.1 million MTN Nigeria subscribers who were disconnected in August and September 2015 and is based on a fine of N200 000 for each unregistered subscriber,” said the company.

Last month, MTN Nigeria recorded a marginal decline in its subscriber base to 62,5 million subscribers, due to the disconnection of 5,1 million subscribers at the end of August 2015 in line with industry-wide regulatory registration requirements. To date, 3,4 million of these subscribers have been reconnected.

This news has hit hard the market value of MTN and wiping off more than R80 billion in the past week and now the market capitalisation of the mobile phone operator is sitting at R352 billion. It is likely that this news may give MTN’s share price a fillip during the course of the day.


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