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NCC may license more InfraCos to expand broadband

By Adeyemi Adepetun (Lagos) and Nkechi Onyedika Ugoeze (Abuja)
19 October 2020   |   4:32 am
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is to review the current Infrastructure Companies (InfraCo) framework, and make available funding options.

Nigerian Communications Commission

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is to review the current Infrastructure Companies (InfraCo) framework, and make available funding options.

NCC announced yesterday that it had constituted a committee to review the framework and recommend sustainable funding options for effective implementation of the national fibre project.

InfraCos are licensed by NCC to provide Layer 1 (dark fibre) services on commercial basis, focus on the deployment of metropolitan fibre, and provide transmission available at access points (Fibre to the Node/Neighbourhood – FTTN) to access seekers.

In a statement by its Director of Public Affairs, Dr. Ike Adinde, the commission informed that the constitution of the committee was sequel to the requirements of the new Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP 2020-2025) and reports of relevant committees set up by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), including the Inter-Ministerial Review Committee on Multiple Taxation on Telecommunications Operators over Right-of-Way (RoW) and the Technical Sub-Committee on Right-of-Way for Deepening Broadband Penetration in Nigeria.

It said the requirements and reports related to the imperative of reviewing the InfraCo framework to cater for the delays in take-off, change in exchange rate, supply chain and other challenges imposed by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

So far, the committee has met with all licensed InfraCos and the preferred bidder for the North Central zone. It is also looking at the challenges facing the InfraCo project, the need for accelerated deployment of fibre infrastructure, means of mitigating the exorbitant RoW charges, among others.

The Guardian gathered that those licensed already include MainOne for Lagos, Zinox Technology Limited (South East zone), Brinks Integrated Solutions Limited (North East), O’dua Infraco Resources Limited (South West), Fleek Networks Limited (North West) and Raeana Nigeria Limited (South South).

The commission may add about 10 additional licensees to the current ones, but this is still subject to Federal Government’s approval, our reporter gathered.

It is also working actively with the Broadband Implementation Steering Committee (BISC) as constituted by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, based on the recommendations and requirements of NNBP 2020-2025.

Providing updates on the status of the InfraCo project, the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said: “The InfraCo project is dear to the government because of its ability to enhance robust and pervasive broadband infrastructure to drive service availability, accessibility and affordability.

“We are keen on ensuring that the project delivers maximum benefits for the economy at large; hence the ongoing review is very critical to the overall success of the project in line with the new realities of the time.”

The EVC clarified that the current status of the project was contrary to reports suggesting that the commission was inching towards executing the counter-part funding in respect of the project.

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