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NCC suspends issuance of virtual operators’ licenses

"The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) hereby informs all stakeholders of a temporary suspension on the issuance of new licenses in the following categories: Interconnect Exchange License, Mobile Virtual Network Operator License, and Value Added Service Aggregator License"

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The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) has notified stakeholders in the communications industry that new license issuance to operators in three categories has been temporarily suspended.

Persecondnews reports that the categories are Mobile Virtual Network Operator Licence, Interconnect Exchange Licence, and Value Added Service Aggregator Licence.

In a post on its official X handle on Friday, the NCC said the suspension is in line with its powers under the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 to grant, renew licenses, and promote fair competition.

It also noted that the temporary suspension is to enable a thorough review of several key areas of market saturation, competition level, and current market dynamics.

A virtual operator is a company that does not own a mobile spectrum license but sells mobile services under its brand name using a licensed mobile operator’s network.

Currently, there are at least 25 operators.

The Interconnect Exchange License is a network facility that enables the interconnection of more than two independent connecting entities to facilitate the transfer of electronic communications.

VAS aggregators are non-core network telecommunication services that are beyond standard voice calls.

These services include internet, directory service, paging service, voice mail and prepaid calling card service, call centre services, content services, and vehicle tracking.

The notice titled “Temporary Suspension Of The Issuance Of Communications Licences In Three Categories” was signed by the Director, Public Affairs Department, Nigerian Communications Commission, Reuben Muoka.

The notice read: “In line with its powers under the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 to grant and renew licenses, promote fair competition, and develop the communications industry, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) hereby informs all stakeholders of a temporary suspension on the issuance of new licenses in the following categories: Interconnect Exchange License, Mobile Virtual Network Operator License, and Value Added Service Aggregator License.

“This temporary suspension is necessary to enable the commission to conduct a thorough review of several key areas within these categories, including the current level of competition, market saturation, and current market dynamics.”

It, however, noted that the new directive doesn’t affect pending applications, which would be considered based on merit.

“The public is invited to note that during the suspension period commencing on 17th of May, 2024, new applications for the aforementioned licenses will not be accepted. This is without prejudice to pending applications before the Commission, which will be considered on their merits.

“Any enquiries for clarification in respect of this suspension notice should be forwarded to: licensing@ncc.gov.ng,” the statement said.

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