Telcos risk N250, 000 fine over abandoned tower under new guidelines
…Operators to obtain NAMA clearance permit before mast erection
… NCC warns service providers against anti-competitive adverts
Going by the new guidelines on technical specifications for the deployment of infrastructure in the communications sector in Nigeria, telecommunications operators risk N250, 000 fines over any abandoned tower.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), in the document dated 2022, released on Monday, informed that a tower that has not been used for a continuous period of three years may be deemed to have been abandoned.
The Guardian checks showed that there are over 40,000 telecoms towers in the country. NCC, however, noted that where abandonment is in issue, it may request appropriate documentation from the owner/operator to determine the effective date of abandonment.
In the 90-page document sighted by The Guardian, upon the determination of abandonment, the commission shall issue a removal notice to the owner, whereupon the owner shall dismantle and remove the tower from the property within 90 days of the receipt of notice from it (Commission).
“An abandoned tower that is not removed within the 90 day period may be removed by the commission and the removal costs as well as a minimum penalty of two hundred and fifty thousand naira (N250, 000) shall be paid by the owner to the Commission,” the document stated.
In terms of inspections, NCC said all towers shall be subjected to inspection at least once in every six months, to assess the structural condition of the tower and support equipment by a qualified tower inspection service provider engaged by the Commission.
According to the telecoms regulator, owners of towers that fail to meet the required inspection standards will be notified and required to remedy the situation within 30 days failing, which the owner shall pay to the commission a penalty of 20 per cent of the tower’s cost.
NCC also hinted that any person erecting a communications mast or tower with height exceeding 20 meters shall be required to obtain a permit from the commission before such mast or tower is erected.
The commission said that there must be evidence of ownership of the property on which the structure is to be installed or a written consent of the owner and that for the erection of the structure in the proposed location, there must also be a permit issued by the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) showing the geographical coordinates of the proposed location of the structure and that of the nearest airport, heliport or helipad or alternatively. The commission noted that the expected service life of a tower shall be 25 years.
IN another document titled, the ‘Guideline on Promotional Advertisements,’ NCC said advertisements must not unfairly discredit, disparage or attack other products, services, advertisements or companies, or exaggerate the nature or importance of competitive differences.
The commission, which said no licensee shall imitate the slogans or illustrations of another advertiser in such a manner as to mislead the consumer, declared that licensees offering Internet connections should state the Internet connection “speed available to end-users as well as specific upload and download speed. “If the connection speed quoted is only obtainable under special circumstances, then these circumstances should be clearly stated,” it stressed.
Going forward, NCC said the licensee should attach a detailed report of the promotion clearly specifying the goods and/or services and the target consumers. It disclosed that the approval or otherwise would be communicated to the licensee within seven days of receiving the application.
“All approvals granted must be registered with the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission within three days of the launch of the promotions. The licensee shall ensure that its network is capable of sustaining the traffic that may be generated from such promotion. The licensee must ensure that the tariff attributed to such promotion does not exceed the tariffs approved by the Commission,” NCC stated.
The commission said licensees must specify the duration and date range of such promotion and the date of redemption of such promotional benefits, stressing that all promotions must not misrepresent the licensees’ opportunity to provide the goods and services at the terms presented.
“If supply of the goods and services are limited, or the licensee can fulfill only limited demand, this must be clearly stated in the communication for the promotion. In respect of promotions or advertisements containing promotions, the licensee must specify the duration and the date range of such promotion and the date of redemption of such promotional benefits,” the document reads.
NCC said it reserves the right to reject any application for promotion. When rejected, the rejection shall be communicated to the licensee within seven – days of receiving the application.