A radio spectrum is typically, the primary subject of spectrum licensing and as such, it does help to have a background knowledge of what a radio spectrum. In simple terms, a radio spectrum is a collective term for all electromagnetic wave frequencies that are useful for wireless communication. Radio waves are invisible and undetectable to human sense but lie at the heart of modern communications technology. Radio transmission technology involves electromagnetic waves radiating outwards from one radio equipment to another radio equipment, through the air and travels as a wave of varying frequency, measured in hertz (Hz). Electromagnetic waves, travelling through the air, are transmitted at different frequencies depending on the electrical signal applied to the transmitting equipment. Generally, frequency and power determine transmission range, such that the lower the frequency and the higher the power, the larger the transmission range. Although high frequencies have smaller transmission ranges and are more easily disrupted by physical obstacles, like high rise buildings, high frequencies can carry larger amounts of data than lower frequencies.
On the policy side, the goal of spectrum policy is to maximize the productivity of assigned spectrum and the economic output that an assigned spectrum enables, to the degree that, the use to which a radio frequency is put at a particular time and place creates more value for society than does the next best use. On the business side, the primary business of telecoms companies is to commercialise radio spectrums, which are licensed to them by the NCC, by way of allocation and assignment. Allocation generally, involves, on the part of a regulator, deciding what to use a spectrum for, taking account of any international agreements. On the other hand, assignment involves deciding which users should have the right to use the spectrum within that agreed allocation. In this context, spectrum licensing is the formal process, by which the NCC allocates and assigns radio spectrums to qualifying bidders. As a general rule, spectrum licensing is typically done by way of an auction process and spectrum licences are awarded to companies prepared to pay the most for spectrum packages. The NCC will typically publish a notice specifying any spectrum it intends to auction together with the auction rules, the award procedure and licence terms. The NCC generally regulates all aspects of telecoms business in Nigeria, including the licensing of radio communications equipment.
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