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NCC suspends issuance of virtual operators’ licences

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On Friday, May 17, the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) announced a temporary suspension of three categories of licenses issued to various operators in the industry.

The affected licenses are the Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) License, Interconnect Exchange License, and Value Added Service (VAS) Aggregator License.

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

Currently, there are at least 25 virtual operators.

The Interconnect Exchange License enables the interconnection of more than two independent entities to facilitate the transfer of electronic communications. VAS aggregators provide non-core network telecommunication services that go beyond standard voice calls.

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

The Commission’s Director of Public Affairs, Reuben Muoka said the suspension was in accordance with NCC powers under the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 to grant, renew licenses and promote fair competition.

Muoka said the temporary suspension is to facilitate a comprehensive review of several key areas of market saturation, competition level and current market dynamics.

“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 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.”

Muoka, however, explained that the new directive would not 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 its merits.

“Any enquiries of clarification in respect of this Suspension Notice should be forwarded to: licensing@ncc.gov.ng,” Muoka stated.

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