Anti-Climax as Bitflux Wins 2.3Ghz Spectrum Auction, beats Globacom
It was an anti-climax in a very transparent exercise filled with suspense as Bitflux, a consortium made up of VDT Communications and Superflux Group, won the 2.3 Ghz spectrum licence auctioned by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), beating auction favourites, Globacom, in a manner reminiscent of the David and Goliath flight in the bible.
The reserved price was $23 million but Bitflux bid $23,251,000 (Twenty three million two hundred and fifty one thousand dollars to outbid Globacom whose bid was $23,050,001. Bidding opened at exactly 11.30 am and by 12.05 pm, a winner had emerged. It lasted only two rounds of 15 minutes each round against popular expectation that the auction may stretch all through the day into the next day. Bitflux has 14 working days starting from yesterday to pay the money or lose the licence to Globacom. A good 19 companies expressed interest in the auction but only two, Bitflux and Globacom, were pre-qualified. Both companies had already paid an initial deposit of $2.3 million, representing 10 percent of the reserved price.
The auction, adjudged open and transparent, by observers, participants and journalists who covered the event, has again underscored the perception of the NCC as Africa’s foremost telecom regulator and one of the model regulators in the global telecom market.
The Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs Omobola Johnson, said the auction would further deepen the Nigerian Broadband market thereby increasing business productivity, improve security and the general wellbeing of the nation’s political economy. She was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Dr. Tunji Olaopa.
While the Chairman of the NCC Board of Directors, Mr. Peter Igoh, described the auction as a landmark event given its transparency and relevance to the nation’s push for broadband penetration, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Dr. Eugene Juwah, the event marked a turning point in the commission’s chosen model of broadband deployment. According to Juwah, “the process has been transparent and we have maintained the virtues of open access model – fair, open and non-discriminatory from the beginning to the end.
The President of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Mr. Lanre Ajayi, said “it’s a glorious day not only for NCC but for Nigerians. This is not the first auction of NCC, today’s exercise mirrors the previous auction which was equally transparent. This goes to show that NCC is not person-driven but system-driven. It shows that NCC is a credible and process-driven organisation. Nigeria does not have a good international image but NCC is changing all that. I urge other federal institutions to copy the Commission”.
The two bidding companies also attested to the transparency of the process.