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Spectrum fees, AOL, other charges may increase

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The President of ATCON, Olusola Teniola


• Operators tasked on network redesign
• COVID-19 triggers 20% increase in local traffic

Except the economy improves, telecoms operators may see an increase in some of the fees they pay to the Federal Government. Specifically, charges including Spectrum fees, Annual Operating levy (AoL), Numbering fees, and a host of others may be reviewed upward.

The Executive Vice Chairman, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, during a virtual conversation on, “the Socio-Economic and Political Impact of COVID-19 on Telecom and ICT Sector in Nigeria,” organised by the Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), at the wekkend, said there are plans to review some fees charged in the sector.

The President of ATCON, Olusola Teniola, had asked the NCC EVC if the sector will witness a possible downward review of spectrum trading fees, but Danbatta said: “Review is an agenda. There is a plan to review all the fees, not just spectrum. What I am not sure of is whether downward or upward reviews. But I must say this, the Federal Government needs more money to run the economy.”

Danbatta, who disclosed that states governments are using data domiciled in the Commission to provide palliatives, stressed that the telecoms sector is in the process of transforming Nigeria through the digital economy agenda.

Meanwhile, the Chief Executive Officer, of Medallion Communications, Ike Nnamani, has called on Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in the country, to, as a matter of urgency, redesign their networks.

Nnamani said this had become necessary if the operators were to meet the possible traffic surge post-COVID-19, noting that currently, there is a big disconnect in operation, “but a redesign of the network ahead of the future will do well to accommodate possible surge.”

According to him, more that 80 per cent of the content on the networks reside outside the country, which makes redesigning imperative, and to get the right mix of financing for the sector by having an ICT bank, which will provide the financial muscle for infrastructure build out in the sector.

Agreeing, the CEO of IPNX, Chima Madu, said a redesign of the network post-COVID-19 will ensure seamless access to contents, noting that to prepare the networks for the future, there is a need for improved infrastructure, reduction in spectrum fees, access to foreign exchange, tax waivers, and reduction in interest rates.

On his part, the CEO of Estream Networks, Muyiwa Ogungboye, noted that COVID-19 has brought lots of opportunities for the sector, especially as the industry became an enabler for other sectors of the economy.

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Ogungboye therefore argued that if the sector must perform better post-pandemic, operators must collaborate, stressing that lots are desired from the sector.

“Collaboration is key, there should be no room for fragmentation. Operators can come together as a cortium and approach the banks for investments,” he stated.

Contributing, Africa Public Policy Manager and Connectivity, Facebook, Fargani Tambeayuk, who spoke from London, said the pandemic has emphasized the need for collaboration and importance of infrastructure roll out.

According to him, post COVID-19 will require Nigeria having quality broadband infrastructure, and the country will need policy, partnership and investments to achieve this.

The CEO of Nigeria Internet Registeration Association (NiRA), Muhammed Rudman, said COVID-19 spurred 20 per cent rise in local traffic. For the sector to achieve more, Rudamn recommended collaboration among players in the sector, stressing that about 80 million people adjudged to be living below the poverty line in the country can be lifted out of that challenge through ICT.

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