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NCC to license last-mile satellite operators, hosts virtual meeting

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In efforts to improve broadband services in the country, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), is in the process of issuing licences to last mile satellite operators to provide broadband services.
  
The Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, gave this hint at the ATCON sectoral virtual forum, saying this has become necessary to ensure ubiquitous broadband in the country.
 
Already, the June subscriber statistics from the NCC showed that there are over 70 million broadband subscribers in the country with about 40 per cent penetration.
 
Danbatta revealed that in last year, the Commission provided licences for commercial satellite space segment, with 55 operators empowered with landing permits.

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He also said the Nigeria telecom regulator is in the process of reviewing the Infrastructure Company (InfraCo) framework as mandated by the New National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025, to align with the new broadband plan.
 
He said that the licensing of Infracos was meant to cascade capacities to the hinterland through fibre infrastructure investments.
  
Danbatta said that such review also falls in line with the Commission’s efforts to ensure even deployment of broadband infrastructure across the country, and the utilization of submarine broadband landed at the sea-shores in Lagos.
 
Meanwhile, the commission hosted the second quarter meeting of Industry Consumer Advisory Forum (ICAF), the first virtual meeting of the Forum.

At the meeting, anchored from the Commission’s Head Office in Abuja, the NCC reiterated its commitment to increase its partnership with consumer rights advocacy groups in the sector to expand the sphere of consumer education through timely, accurate and adequate information sharing to enhance the level of education of the average telecom consumer.

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Danbatta, who spoke through the Director of Consumer Affairs Bureau (CAB), Efosa Idehen, said the Commission is working consciously and appropriately to ensure that continuous and informed conversations take place among all stakeholders in the industry on all matters, particularly as it affects telecom consumers, who are the lifeblood of the sector.

“The just-concluded virtual meeting of ICAF speaks to NCC’s commitment to give full expression to the metaphorical saying: ‘thinking beyond the box’, to get the work done in the face of challenging circumstances, such as the restrictions resulting from the outbreak of COVID-19. We are therefore committed to partner ICAF and other stakeholders in the telecom industry to stimulate value-adding conversations that will generate ideas to sustain and advance the relevance of telecommunication as a critical enabler of digital economy”, Danbatta declared at a brief in-house evaluative session on the ICAF meeting.

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As a testimony to NCC’s readiness to work harmoniously with other stakeholders in the industry, the Commission in collaboration with ICAF is finalising the production of Telecom Consumer Handbook, in order to deepen consumer education about telecom products and services.

The Management of NCC was particularly pleased that issues affecting differently-abled people featured prominently at the meeting and promised that such matters will continue to be on the priority list of the Commission. The differently-abled people are those hitherto referred to as ‘the physically-challenged’. A representative of the group informed the meeting that the United Nations had passed a resolution that the persons in that category be addressed as “Differently-Abled People”.

The ICAF also requested all telecom consumer rights advocacy groups to enhance their activities and programmes on telecom consumer information and education; and to be involved, in synergy with the Commission, to increase sensitization on infrastructure protection. While the meeting commends the attention the issue of telecom infrastructure protection has received from the Federal Government, it also calls on the Commission to sustain the administrative advocacy on obtaining Executive Order, as well as the Legislative process to ensure the passage of the Critical National Infrastructure Protection Bill by the National Assembly.

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