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Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starlink Arrives Nigeria, Meets NCC for Permit

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has emphasised that in light of disruption in the technology world, it is keen on balancing healthy competition with entry of disruptive technologies to ensure sustainable telecoms industry growth and development in Nigeria.

The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of NCC, Umar Danbatta, stated this during a presentation to the commission by a delegation from SpaceX, an American aerospace manufacturer and space transportations services company, in Abuja on Thursday, May 6, 2021.

SpaceX is in the process of launching a low-earth orbiting (LOE) constellation of satellites to provide low latency, high bandwidths Internet to all corners of the globe and has identified Nigeria as a critical market.

SpaceX has been in discussion with NCC virtually over the past several months to begin the process of pursuing all necessary licenses to bring Starlink, its satellite-based broadband services to Nigeria.

Having made substantial progress in the discussion, the Commission granted SpaceX’s request for a face-to-face discussion to gain better insights on the prospects of their proposal.

Led by SpaceX’s Starlink Market Access Director for Africa, Ryan Goodnight and supported by the company’s consultant, Levin Born, the company provided an overview of its plans, expectations, licensing requests and deployment phases during the meeting.

After the presentation by SpaceX team, the Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, NCC, Ubale Maska, who stood in for the EVC, said NCC will work on necessary modalities to ensure that it balances the need for healthy competition vis-a-vis the entry of new technologies, in order to protect all industry stakeholders.

“As the regulator of a highly dynamic sector in Nigeria, the Commission is conscious of the need to ensure that our regulatory actions are anchored on national interest. We have listened to your presentation and we will review it vis-à-vis our regulatory direction of ensuring effective and a sustainable telecoms ecosystem where a licensee’s operational model does not dampen healthy competition among other licensees,” Mr Maska told the SpaceX delegation.

Mr Maska further stated that the commission is interested in making necessary regulatory efforts to drive the coverage of rural, unserved and underserved areas of the country through the accomplishments of the lofty targets contained in the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020-2025. He noted that the plan’s target of 70 per cent broadband penetration target, covering 90 per cent of the population by 2025, is also in line with government expectations in the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), 2010-2030.

Other senior management staff of the commission at the briefing include the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, Adeleke Adewolu; Director, Licensing and Authorisation, Mohammed Babajika; Director, Technical Standards and Network Integrity, Bako Wakil; Director, New Media and Information Security, Haru Alhassan and Director, Spectrum Administration, Oluwatoyin Asaju, among others.

Section 70 (2) of the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA), 2003, empowers the Commission to regulate the provision and use of all satellite communications services and networks, in whole or in part within Nigeria or on a ship or aircraft registered in Nigeria.

This is for the purpose of ensuring a well-developed and organised satellite communications market with appropriate legal framework that meets international best practices, encourages innovation, promotes competition and guarantees public safety in the rendering of commercial satellite services.

NCC signs MOU with NigComSat on 5G Spectrum

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NigComSat) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will facilitate the release of contiguous bandwidth in one of the most suitable frequency spectrum bands for early deployment of fifth Generation (5G) Network services in Nigeria.

The MoU signing ceremony was the high point of discussions by the two organisations on how to relocate the NG-1R satellite of NigComSat to the standard C-band 300MHz (3.9GHz – 4.2GHz) portion of the band, which is considered more suitable in terms of satellite service offering because of the advantage of cheaper terminal devices for end-users.

Accordingly, such relocation will leave the non-standard C-band 400MHz (3.5GHz – 3.9GHz) portion of the band for 5G use while the cost of relocating the NG-1R is expected to be offset from the proceeds of the auction of the 5G spectrum.

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