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NCC mandates ATCON to mediate in ALTON, Kogi face-off


Engr. Austin Nwaulune, Director Spectrum Administration, NCC (left); Ms. Funlola Akiode, Director Licensing and Authorisation, NCC; Mr. Tony Izuagbe, Co-ordinator Infrastructure for ATCON, Representing ATCON President, Mr. Chukwuma E. Azkiwe; Head Post Licensing, NCC, during the Stakeholders Consultative Forum with Selected Licence Categories at Sheraton Hotel, Lagos.<br />

Worried by the adverse impact of shutdown of cell sites by Kogi state government and threat by Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) to withdraw telecommunications services from the state, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has mandated Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), to intervene in the dispute with the aim of resolving the issues amicably.

Olusola Teniola, president, ATCON, disclosed this to Nigeria CommunicationsWeek noting that his association have started contacting relevant authorities in Kogi state government in line with the mandate.

Reacting to actions of Kogi state government in shutting down cell sites, Teniola said that such actions sound contradictory to the same government that wants to improve life of its citizens and are seen to be destroying telecommunications infrastructure that assist in improving lives of the people.

“We need a law that will classify telecom equipment as critical national infrastructure to holistically solve this problem of incessant closure of cell sites by state government agencies over levies and taxes.

“It is unfortunate that some arms of government do not understand the importance of telecommunications services to the life of their citizens, those governments put revenue ahead of the life of citizens. Shutting down 70 base stations in a roll is far high for any state to still enjoy uninterrupted service delivery.

“This situation should not be tolerated. There should be court order before any site is closed by any agency,” he stated.

He however offered explanation on the belief that ‘Right of way’ fees are not renewable, according to him, “in the market place today, there are three categories of ‘Right of way’ fees, in some states the charge is one-off, others charge annually while some charge three years in advance when seeking for the approval.

“The idea of looking at telecom as cash cow where levies and taxes are applied when the state feel they need Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) is not acceptable at all. This is inimical to bridging digital divide.

“We are appealing to other state governments to stop closure of telecommunications infrastructure because of its impact on the citizens and youths as their future depend on the availability of telecom services for them to support electronic businesses.”

He appealed to the National Assembly to expedite action on the bill that designates telecom equipment as critical national infrastructure and pass it into law.

“Once it is done, it will be difficulty for any state government to disregard it and impose levies on telecom equipment as against the letter written by Office of National Security Adviser urging state governments to regard telecom equipment as critical national infrastructure,” he added.

Deolu Ogunbanjo, president, National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers of Nigeria, NATCOMMS, said that: “It is unfortunate that operators are made to go through all these challenges in their efforts to deliver quality services.

“This has been an age long issue from National Environmental Standards Regulatory and Enforcement Agency (NESREA) demand for Environmental Impact Assessment levy. We are urging our members who are subscribers of telecom services to prevail on their governments to stop frustrating operators through multiple taxes.

“Kogi state should follow Lagos state example. People need telecom services and not to tax them out of profit.”

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