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Patronage, multiple taxation hobble broadband network expansion

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Lack of state governments’ patronage of broadband services to enhance their operations of governance as well as multiple taxes have been identified as major obstacles to broadband expansion drive of telecommunications operators.

Myke Ofili, general manager, Coloplus Nigeria Limited, explained that expansion of broadband network of operators does not require building of physical infrastructure such as towers but expansion of existing network through laying of fibre and upgrade to deliver broadband services.

He noted that most state government are reluctant in buying into operators broadband services required to enhance online service delivery of governance.

“State governments can approach operators to lay fibre around their state which will enhance broadband service for their citizens to access government services online. Forensic audits are made possible with ubiquitous broadband service in a state among other services. These are in addition to right of way issues and multiple taxes that have made business environment in most states non conducive for operators to invest their money in expansion,” he added.

He commended operators over their recent efforts in extending coverage to rural areas through the support of Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) of federal government.

“There has been a lot of drive towards expanding coverage to underserved areas with the assistance from government. They are doing this to help government because providing telecommunications services to rural areas is not commercially viable,” he said.

Also responding, Engr. Ike Nnamani, first vice president, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) identified funding as a challenge to operators’ quest to expand their network for broadband services.

“Source of funding for building of telecommunications infrastructure has been a challenge for operators as Nigerian banks are not willing to give operators long term long loan and foreign investors are sceptical on investing in the country because of bad image of the country. It is against this backdrop that MTN Nigeria and Airtel are listing in Nigeria Stock Exchange to get fund for network expansion among others,” he said.

Engr. Samuel Adeleke, managing director, Steineng Ltd, said: “As an operator in the market, I’m unwilling to invest in the telecom space because of the present climate. Mobile operators are behaving as if the market is saturated; they are looking at bulk of the population in the urban areas that have been covered and turning away from potential 80% of rural dwellers that are yet to be penetrated.

“There is no urge for them to invest in providing coverage to 80% rural dwellers that are unpenetrated like they are investing in providing services to the financial sector, instead operators are busy upgrading their networks from 3G to 4G not making available data for the technology,” he said.


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