The telecommunication sector comprises companies that make communication possible on a global scale, whether it is through the phone or the Internet. These companies created the infrastructure that allows data to be sent anywhere in the world. In Nigeria, the principal legislation that regulates the communication sector is the Nigeria Communication Act (2003) while the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) is the body responsible for the administration of the Act.
However, a prospective investor willing to do business in the communication sector in Nigeria must adhere to all existing regulations and requirements, as the sector is highly regulated. This will involve getting requisite licenses, permits, written authorizations, and assignments before such investing organization will be allowed to operate.
In accordance with Section 70 of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 (NCA 2003), the Commission is empowered to make regulations relating to written authorizations, permits, assignments, and Licenses.
Meanwhile, the process to obtain an NCC license must be commenced with the registration of a company in Nigeria.
Procedure To Obtain A Telecom License
To start with, a license is a legal document that grants a company the authority to engage in a telecom business or to provide a telecom Service. The grant of the license will, however, depend on the category of license an applicant is seeking. The categories of licenses issued by the NCC are broadly divided into two, which are:
- Individual License: this is a type of authorization in which the terms, conditions and obligations, scope and limitations are specific to the service being provided. A process of licensing can take the form of Auction, “First Come First Served”, “Beauty Contest” or a standard administrative procedure, etc. List of licenses under this category includes;
- Internet services
- Non-commercial closed user group.
- Sales & installation.
- Unified Access Service License.
- International Data Access.
- International Gateway.
- Interconnect Exchange.
- Metropolitan (fibre) Cable Network.
- National Carrier.
- National Long Distance Communication (NLDC)
- Public Mobile Communication- Trunk Radio Services
- International Submarine Cable Infrastructure & Landing station service.
- Value Added Service.
- Infrastructure Sharing & Collocation Service.
- Automated Vehicular Tracking Service.
- Open Access Fibre Infrastructure Network (INFRACOs)
- Whole Sale Wireless Access Services
- Private Network Link (PNL)
- Class License: this is a type of general authorization in which the terms and conditions/obligations are common to all license holders. It requires only registration with NCC for applicants to commence operation. The various licenses under this category include;
- Sales & Installation
- Repairs & Maintenance of Telecoms Facilities
- Cabling Services.
- Tele Centre/ Cyber café.
- Public Payphone Services.
Requirement And Procedure For Obtaining An Individual License
The guideline for how to obtain NCC License is well stated on the website for the commission. In accordance with the NCC’s guideline, the requirements for Individual License category include.
- Duly completed application in the prescribed form in three copies which shall be attached with
- Copy of certificate of incorporation and other incorporation documents
- Current Tax Clearance Certificate but if it is a new company, a letter indicating tax waiver should be obtained and attached to the application
- Passport photographs of an authorized representative.
- Feasibility report of proposed services to be rendered by the company
A completed application would be submitted in triplicate with all necessary documents attached and bound together. On submission, a nonrefundable administrative charge that is 5% of the relevant license fee would be paid. License offer is granted if all conditions and requirements are met.
For individual license, depending on the service and completeness of required information, the conclusion of the process takes between 4‐8 weeks.
Requirement And Procedure For Obtaining A Class License
The process and requirements involved in this category of License include;
- Duly completed application in the prescribed form in two copies
- Certificate of Incorporation and CTC of other incorporation documents
- Current Tax Clearance Certificate
- Three Passport photographs of an authorized representative of the company or applicant
- Feasibility report of proposed service, which license is being applied for
A completed application should be submitted in triplicate with all necessary documents attached together. On submission, a nonrefundable administrative charge, which is 5% of the relevant license fee, must be paid. License offer is granted if all conditions or requirements are fulfilled.
According to the provision of the Nigerian Communication Act 2003, an applicant must receive a response with respect to license application within 90 days of the submission of the application. However for a Class License, once an application is complete, an offer letter will be issued immediately.
Value Added Service License (VAS)
A Value Added telecommunication services are non‐core Network telecommunication services which are beyond standard voice calls. These services include Internet, Directory service, paging service, voice mail and Prepaid Calling Card service, Call Center Services, Content Services, and Vehicle Tracking. The service provider does not own a network to provide the service and may ride on existing networks. As such, an investor willing to opt for the value-added service would still be required to furnish additional requirement before the NCC VAS license can be issued.
Additional requirements for Value added service.
Additional requirements for VAS (Content Services Using Short Code) are as follows:
- Evidence of an Agreement or a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) entered between the Company and the Mobile Network Operator(s) for the provision of VAS – Content Services.
- Alternatively, the Company would provide a copy of License duly issued to it by the CBN for Mobile Payment Services or Lottery Commission for lottery services.
In conclusion, it would be advisable that one should involve and engage expert usually legal practitioners specialized in this field that understands the framework of this sector when applying for Licenses so as to be By Resolution Law Firm, Nigeria
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