Delays in Nigeria for WiMAX licenses

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) issued licences for spectrum in the 2.3GHz frequency band for WiMAX services, which were allocated this month to Mobitel, Spectranet and Multilinks.

Yet almost as soon as the news was out, doubts were raised about the licensing process, and it was stopped by the Ministry of Information and Communications in Nigeria.

The NCC is currently fighting the cancellation and arguing its case with the government. Both the Honourable Minister of Information and Communications, Professor Dora Akunyili, and Ernest Ndukwe, CEO at the NCC, are due to give keynote presentations at the forthcoming West & Central Africa Com congress taking place in Abuja in three weeks. Their presence should attract a lot of attention from the local industry observers and stakeholders, as well as from across the region.

The subject is of interest in West & Central Africa, as there are debates about the opportunities for WiMAX in Africa. It has always been hailed as a great technology to provide wireless broadband services on the continent. Its relatively cheap deployment and flexibility made it a good business case for under-served areas.

However, it hasn’t taken off quite as fast as some of its most fervent supporters were hoping for, and the debate is still ongoing over what the best use is for the technology on the continent. Rural communications and broadband developments will be a major topic of discussion at West & Central Africa Com, with operators, regulators, vendors and analysts debating the optimum ways of improving connections and encouraging growth in the market.