Subsidy agreement delays infracos’ service rollout
The inability of federal government to workout subsidy agreement with licensed infrastructure companies (infraCos) for the deployment infrastructure expected to assist in transmission of bandwidth capacity is delaying their take-off, Nigeria Communicationsweek has learnt.
InfraCos are licensed to provide Layer 1 (dark fibre) services on commercial basis; focus on the deployment of metropolitan fibre and provide transmission services, available at access points (Fibre to the Node or Neighborhood – FTTN) to access seekers.
They can also leverage existing inter-city fibre to deploy their services; purchase/lease transmission or long haul fibre capacity from other providers, where available, for the purpose of interconnection.
Prof. Umar Danbatta, executive vice chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), who disclosed this at the side line in Lagos during a media interactive session, said that the InfraCos licensed more than two years ago are yet to rollout services because of the delays in signing subsidy agreement with government which is a motivation for them to rollout service.
He explained that the InfraCos are faced with the challenge of ‘Right of way’ approval in some states. He cited FCT where the administration in the city has set up joint technical committee to work-out a way to address ‘Right of Way’ issues in FCT which has lingered for some years now.
He urged for the review of the present cost of N145 per meter of fibre as prescribe by the federal government to a more realistic cost as well as make any agreed cost national as against a situation where every state charge differently.
“If we can borrow from Kaduna State which has gazetted its cost at N800 per metre of fibre in the state will be good. However, a review panel is ongoing to come up with a new rate that will have a national outlook instead of individual states coming up with high rate,” he noted.
Engr. Olusola Teniola, president, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), said that InFraCo licenses were created to address the neutrality in accessibility, affordability and availability of undersea fiber into the hinterland that was the missing piece to ensure that ubiquitous broadband infrastructure can be made available to the masses.
“What we witnessed and the records are there for all to see, is the numerous delays and slowing down of government to assist in the realization of the implementation – without government’s full buy-in, there were mixed signals sent to the investment community as to exactly how this was going to be realized. So, in 2018 we are still yet to witness any rollout of any fiber by the two InfraCo operators that were licensed in 2015-16,” he said.