NCC offers N3b subsidy initiative for InfraCos
• Operators to lose license after one year
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), said it has made available N3 billion subsidy budget to assist Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) in the deployment of services in the country.
The N3 billion has been approved by the National Assembly, and would be executed on a yearly basis.
This was disclosed by the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, during an interaction with journalists in Abuja.
Although, the NCC said none of the licensed InfraCos have accessed the subsidy, The Guardian however gathered that most of the licensed operators are facing serious challenges in their regions of operations.
Chief of these challenges relate to the issue of Right of Way (RoW), where state governments are demanding huge fees from operators before they can be allowed to roll out their services.
Already, iConnect, a subsidiary of IHS Nigeria, has returned its operating licence for the North Central region, owing also to delays in getting approval for RoW, and cut throat roll out charges by state agencies.
Danbatta revealed that apart from the challenge of RoW for iConnect, “the firm wanted a national licence instead of the regional, but we see that distorting the whole plan if given. That licence will be reissued to another operator that is ready.”
According to him, the InfraCo initiative was targeted at helping Nigeria meet the 30 per cent broadband penetration by the end of the year.
He urged operators to roll out, warning that the one-year grace handed InfraCo licensees may be reduced to six months, saying: “the Commission doesn’t want the operators to become idle with the licence. Any operator, which failed to roll out within one year, may have the licence withdrawn.”
Meanwhile, the EVC has assured that quality of service would improve soon, adding that some infrastructure must be in place for this to happen, as Nigeria needed more Base Transceiver Stations and fibre cables to ensure services become optimal.
Danbatta further said lack of redundancy, erratic power supply, vandalism, lack of required capacity, amidst other technical factors would need to be resolved before services can be optimal.
“That is not to say we are not monitoring the operators, or putting them on their toes to ensure improved services, but we also understand their challenges. The assurance is that NCC would continue to monitor QoS, especially the Key Performance Index (KPI), and when it is necessary to wield the big stick against any erring operator on QoS, we shall not hesitate,” he stressed.