The Nigerian Commununications Commission (NCC) has granted MTN’s application for renewal of its licence.
MTN has uptil next month to pay the $94.2 million (about N18.6billion) for the renewal, which will subsist till 2021.
MTN has November 16 deadline to pay the N1.4trillion it was fined by NCC for subscriber identity module (SIM) card irregularity fine.
A source in the regulatory agency yesterday said the licence renewal and SIM card trivails of the telco are unrelated. The source said the process for licence renewal preceded the SIM card problem the telco has with the regulator.
The source said the telco is still in discussion with the Federal Government, adding that when ongoing engagements are concluded, its “outcome will be communicated to you.”
MTN said it received confirmation from the regulator that its operating spectrum in the 900 megahertz (MHz) and 1800 MHz frequency bands had been renewed.
The NCC said: “The Digital Mobile License (DML) won by MTN in 2001 was for a period of 15 years commencing from 9/2/2001 to 8/2/2016, subject to automatic renewal as provided for in paragraph 3 and 4 of the DML license condition.
“Recall that in 2006, MTN (along with other licenses), was granted the Unified Access Service License (UASL) for a period of 10 years commencing from 1/9/2006 to 31/8/2016. In 2007 when MTN won the 2GHz spectrum licence, the Commission based on the information memorandum requested MTN to pay for the extension of its UASL License (August, 2007). Records available in finance department show that MTN paid for the extension of the license in 2007 from 10 years to 15 years.
“Early this year, in compliance with the condition of the DML, license on renewal as cited above, MTN, along with another licensee (Airtel), applied for the renewal of its DML license which expires on 8th February, 2016.
“After due consideration by the Commission, it was decided that DML issuance will be discontinued, as it had been subsumed under the UASL. However, the tenure of the spectrum license being used for this service, 900MHz and 1800MHz, would be harmonised to run concurrently with the UASL for administrative convenience. The Commission by a letter dated 27th July, 2015 had asked MTN to pay for the extension of the spectrum till 31st August, 2015.
“However, based on MTN’s letter of 6th August, 2015, it was discovered that it had paid for an extension in 2007. There was however no document to show that the extension was duly communicated to MTN. Accordingly, MTN has to pay Spectrum fees till 2021 instead of 2016 as earlier advised.”
Reacting to the development, MTN Corporate Affairs Executive, Akinwale Goodluck said the licence renewal is vote of confidence in the ability of the telco to continue to render innovative services and contribute to the growth of Nigeria economy.
“We view this extension as a demonstration of confidence in MTN’s capacity to continue to provide ground-breaking and innovative services to its customers,’’ Akinwale Goodluck, said in a separate statement.
Shares in MTN, which earns 37 per cent of its revenue from Nigeria, dropped by 25 per cent since the fine was announced last week.
South Africa’s bourse on Monday suspended trading in its stock for a few hours.
The firm’s shares recovered somewhat in early trade on the bourse, advancing 0.9 per cent to 149.50 rand.
The company’s largest shareholder, South Africa’s Public Investment Corporation, said it was concerned about MTN’s alleged non-compliance with telecoms regulations of Nigeria.
The allegation was that MTN’s management did not immediately disclose material information to the market.