Technology | Technology

NCA postpones digital dividend spectra auction

The digital dividend spectra auction slated to start from today, November 18 and end November 24, 2015 has been postponed to December 1-3, 2015, and the eventual winners will be announced on December 7.

Then National Communications a Authority (NCA) had earlier announced the two 2x10MHz spectra blocks within the 800MHz band harvested from the digital migration would go on auction between November 18 and 24 and the eventual winners were going to be announced on November 25, 2015.

But a new statement on its website said pursuant to Section 4.4 of the Selection and Award Procedure for Licenses in the mobile services in the 800MHz band, the timetable for the process has been amended.

Meanwhile, the deadline for the submission of application still remain November 9, 2015, which has passed, and so far only four organizations have submitted applications to participate in the auction.

The four applicants are Scancom Ghana Limited (MTN), Surfline Communications Limited, Goldkey Telecom Limited, and Migson Communications Limited. It is still not clear who are behind. Migson Communication.

Goldkey and Surfline already have Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) licenses in the 2600MHz spectrum band, which is suitable for 4G LTE services, just like the 800MHz is.

During public consultation on the new spectra auction, Airtel Ghana, Vodafone Ghana, Tigo Ghana, Glo Ghana,  Blu Communications (another BWA license holder) and Broadband Home showed also interest. But now only four have submitted applications.


Meanwhile, the NCA has announced the selection of renown auditing firm, KPMG to conduct the auction on the given dates.

KPMG was selected based on merit out of two companies which submitted applications for the spectra auction job.

"KPMG will now be responsible for managing the process leading up to the auction and the actual auction. This will involve setting out the rules of the auction and ensuring an independent and transparent process," the NCA said on its website.

Meanwhile it still remains that the floor price for each of the spectra on auction is US$67.5million but the highest bidder wins. And once a contestant wins one spectrum it is no longer eligible for the auction of the second one.

Any foreign entity participating in the auction should show that at least there is a 35 per cent local private ownership in the license.

So even though MTN, for instance is 98 per cent owned by a foreign company, if its wins any of the new spectra licenses, the foreign entity can only own 65 per cent, and offload 35 per cent to Ghanaians.

ICT Chamber

Meanwhile, ahead of the auction, the existing BWA licensees, namely Surfline, Blu and Goldkey have constituted themselves into an ICT Chamber, resisting the auction and asking government to give them the spectra for a total of US$83million.

The Chamber's CEO, Paul Adom-Otchere stressed the need for the local BWA license holders to be protected against the multinationals like MTN, to allow locals to recoup their investments and make handsome profits.

He also alleged that the multinational telcos have failed to deploy the 3G licenses fully so they do not deserve to be given the superior spectra. More so, it would not be prudent to give "our most precious national asset" to multinationals.


But MTN has already hinted of plans to deploy 4G LTE network and also improve on the quality of its 3G network on the back of the new spectra.

The company has also announced plans to use the spectra to provide even more innovative services like m-health, m-education, m-agriculture and others for the benefit of a greater majority of Ghanaians at a more affordable rate.