MTN Nigeria has announced N30 billion ($106.1 million) payment to the Nigeria Federal Government (NFG). As a first tranche of the N1.04 trillion ($3.68 billion) fine, that was later reduced to N330 billion ($1.167 billion).
This first tranche of $283 million payout will be in addition to the previous N50 billion ($251 million) paid to the NFG. MTN Nigeria has so far paid out N80 billion ($282.94 million) to the NFG. The penalty came about as a result of the telecom failure to comply with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) regulation to have all SIM cards registered.
MTN Nigeria failed to cut off about 5.1 million unregistered SIM cards on its network, leading to the NCC slapping it with a $5.2 billion fine. That was later negotiated downwards to the $3.68 billion.
In other development, MTN Nigeria won the recent 2.6GHz spectrum auction by the NCC. The telecom shelled out another N18.96 billion ($67.06 million) to the NFG to that effect. According to the NCC, the 2.6GHz spectrum will guarantee the telecom superior performance for wireless networks like the 4G LTE services.
NCC confirmed that MTN Nigeria will have the 2.6GHz frequency band for the next ten years. The commission also reassured the country that MTN was in full compliance with all relevant provisions of the Information Memorandum for the spectrum, even if it was a sole approved bidder.
Like most other African countries, Nigeria has 4G LTE services, but its penetration is restricted to just a small sections of the major cities. With the awarded spectrum, MTN efforts to provide mobile broadband and 4G LTE services to the over 60 million customers in has in Nigeria got a significant boost.
The Telecom is also planning on leveraging on FDD networks and WIMAX over TDD networks to provide greater consistency with its 2G and 3G networks.
“After complying with all the requirements for the 2.6GHz auction and making the license payment of N18.96 billion to the NCCC, MTN has been issued a letter of award. With the 2.6GHz band, we expect to roll out and provide the full range of LTE services to Nigerians, empowering Nigeria with the latest mobile broadband technology,” said Ferdi Moolman, the MTN Nigeria CEO.
“I am also pleased to announce that the first payment of N30 billion in the terms of settlement has already been disbursed to the NCC. In addition to the earlier payment of N50billion, which we paid in good faith and without prejudice on February 24, this means we have now paid a total of N80 billion.
We are very pleased with this development at this time, which is a further step in the right direction for Nigeria. Indeed, MTN is fully aligned and supports the NCC’s objective to deliver broadband services to present and future generations of subscribers, in line with the National Broadband Plan of 2013.
This license acquisition further demonstrates MTN’s abiding faith in the future of Nigeria and the resilience of the Nigerian economy. MTN continues to believe in Nigeria, and we have expressed this belief in the level of our investment, which currently stands at approximately USD 15 billion and counting. We strongly believe that there is a need for significant levels of investment in broadband infrastructure and services to truly launch Nigeria into the information age. We are honored to be the arrowhead.”