Airtel Networks Limited paid the Nigerian Communications Commission $316.7 million for 100 MHz of spectrum in the 3500 MHz band for the deployment of the 5th generation and 2×5 2600 MHz network to boost its 4th generation coverage in the country.

The firm stated this in an announcement on the Nigerian Exchange titled ‘Nigeria 4G and 5G Spectrum Acquisition’.

According to the firm, the additional spectrum will support its investments in network expansion for both mobile data and fixed wireless home broadband capacity, including 5G rollout.

Airtel Africa CEO Segun Ogunsanya said: “Nigeria is a market with huge potential for future growth in mobile services.

“Investment in new technology and local infrastructure to enable this growth is a strategic priority for the Group and will ensure that we can provide reliable and affordable services to local communities across the country. 5G is central to these ambitions, and we look forward to launching new services to drive greater digitalization across the country, facilitate economic progress and transform lives in Nigeria.”

The acquisition of Airtel’s 5G license brings the number of 5G licensees in Nigeria to three. In 2021, MTN Nigeria and Mafab Nigeria Communications Limited won the two available batches of 100 MHz TDD slots from the 3.5 GHz band.

Since then, MTN has launched its 5G network in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Ibadan, Kano, Owerri and Maiduguri. But it is not yet clear if Mafab has launched its services.

As of August 2022, Mafab revealed that it would miss the NCC’s 5G rollout start date of August 24, 2022. According to him, the commission had given it a five-month extension to roll out its 5G due to delays in receive your Numbering Plan and Unified Access Service License.

When asked if the company has launched, a source confirmed that the company has now launched 5G services on some sites and will have an official announcement soon.

The source said: “There are some live sites now. Some are in Lagos. There should be an announcement before the last day of the month.”

In December 2022, the COO of the Nigerian Telecommunications Companies Association, Ajibola Olude, told our correspondent: “Mafab will be launched this month. It is confirmed. They will use the existing infrastructure of the IHS towers and the rest. They will be released this month (December).”