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Stakeholders seek rejig of policies to stimulate telecom investment

By Chike Onwuegbcuhi
21 August 2020   |   4:20 am
Prof Umar Garba Danbatta, executive vice chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) officially commenced his second term in office this month with great vigor to succeed...


Prof Umar Garba Danbatta, executive vice chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) officially commenced his second term in office this month with great vigor to succeed as well as make growth and developmental impact in the telecommunications sector.

One area that requires attention is broadband penetration especially with the submission of National Broadband Plan which the commission is playing supervisory role of its implementation.

The Federal Government has set broadband penetration target of 70% by 2021 which is few months away and it has become imperative for more pragmatic approach to issues that will assist to achieve the set target.

To this end, that stakeholders urged federal government and its regulatory agency in the ecosystem to review its existing policies as well as ensure a business friendly environment if the country will achieve the new broadband penetration target of 70%.

The stakeholders said that a review has become necessary in view of little impact of the existing policies and environmental conditions.

“Operators are grappling with the stifling effect of high business costs occasioned by ballooning interest expense on borrowings and a burdensome tax regime, while the long delays in processing right of way permits and their arbitrary costing models are the main reasons for the prohibitive cost of leasing transmission infrastructure in the country.

“This is in addition to the incessant cost of repairing damaged fibre infrastructure as a result of cable theft or damage during road construction, and insufficient electricity supply requiring operators to invest heavily in alternative energy projects to power base transceiver stations (BTS)” they stated.

Gbenga Adebayo, chairman, association Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) said that policy will do more towards any targeted broadband penetration.

He said that granting multiple operational licenses to operators does not guarantee investment in that regard, but implementation of well -articulated policies that will encourage operators to invest their money.

He said Government must go beyond granting of licenses to eliminating those barriers such as bottlenecks in securing ‘right of way’, impediments to smooth network operations- where operators are forced to pay levies that are not legalized, and vandalisation.

He explained that broadband services are anchored on availability of bandwidth, and that with excess capacity of it at our shore, investment need to be encouraged to distribute this capacity to various geographical areas of the country for broadband revolution to be experienced as is the case with voice service.

He added that operators that secured licenses to roll out broadband services with big money are yet to invest in provision of infrastructure because of clumsy process of securing ‘right of way’ from various government agencies.

Engr. Olusola Teniola, president, Association of Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ATCON), speaking on the use of TV White space technology for broadband service, said that TV white space is an experimental application to try out in areas of congestion or scarcity of radio frequency.

“In Nigeria, the regulator NCC in collaboration with National Frequency Management Council (NFMC) have oversight function on this spectrum, and they have not defined how, where and what application to deploy using these free slots- a free space in spectrum.

“TV white space is being used to try and test viability of broadband using those slots until NCC has approved and issue licenses for its usage.

“It is one of the several ways of broadband type application. Others are spectrum 2.6GHZ, 800MHZ among others. These spectrums should be made available in timely manner by NCC at affordable prize so that in addition to TV white space operators both large and small can have wide options choices for broadband network rollout in Nigeria.