NCC Predicts Second Wave Telecoms Boom in Nigeria

After the first telecoms boom which hit the telecoms landscape in Africa from Nigeria following the licensing of four mobile network operators in Nigeria, the second wave of telecoms boom expected to hit the Sub-Sahara from Nigeria will be coming from the massive deployment of broadband infrastructure.

According to the prediction from the Executive Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, (NCC), Prof Umar Danbatta, the availability of broadband infrastructure will unlock new opportunities and drive a second wave of growth in the telecommunications industry and the economy after the exponential growth of voice service.

Danbatta told industry stakeholders at the Telecoms Executive Forum organised by the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, (ATCON) held in Lagos, South West Nigeria, that optimal deployment of broadband infrastructures via the Infraco model in the face of existing broadband infrastructure challenges is critical to driving broadband availability, accessibility and affordability in Nigeria.

The head of Africa’s finest telecoms regulator who was represented at the forum by Engr. Bako Wakil, Deputy Director, Spectrum Administration said the process for new spectrum auctions and assignments to drive mobile and wireless broadband is ongoing stressing that fibre based broadband deployments in conjunction with latest generation mobile telecommunications will drive the digital economy.

According to him, the Commission’s aim is to create the right regulatory environment that will enable licencees to deliver available, accessible, and affordable broadband services saying that facilitating the re-farming of existing spectrum held by operators to provide broadband services without impacting their QoS delivery.

He disclosed that the auction of 2.5 / 2.6 GHz spectrum, 700 MHz band once available will open up and assign other spectrum bands in an open and transparent manner adding that over 50,000 km of inter-City Fiber has been laid already.

Wakil listed two level challenges of broadband development in Nigeria which are the demand and supply noting that on the demand side are the cost of terminal devices, relatively limited availability of locally relevant content, cost of broadband access, relatively low level of digital literacy, unsatisfactory “broadband” speeds, poor perception of broadband value and relatively large population segment with low purchasing power.

While on the supply side are relatively limited Infrastructure sharing, power supply issues, high Right of Way charges, duplication of backhaul intercity fibre, lack of metropolitan fibre infrastructure in several towns and cities, multiple taxation and regulation, limited spectrum bandwidth, discriminatory pricing by existing infrastructure owners, security and Community issues and damage and vandalisim of fibre infrastructure.

He however promised that the NCC will continue to drive and support high speed broadband connectivity to end user through various initiatives such as the licensing of InfraCos on a regional basis to provide metropolitan fibre and wholesale transmission services on a non-discriminatory, open access and price regulated basis adding that .3GHz spectrum has been licensed for wholesale wireless last mile services.

President of ATCON, Mr. Olusola Teniola in his remark during the plenary section said the industry is yet to see the impact of the Infracos across the cities like Lagos where license has been issued for the deployment of fibre cable.

Mr. Ibrahim Dikko,Vice President Regulatory and Corporate Affairs at 9mobile said that there are a lot fibre optic cable stuck at the sea shore in Lagos waiting for retailing stressing that government has not seen the National Broadband Plan as from the regulatory angle.

According to him, most government across Nigeria sees land use charge as a means of making money from telecos adding that the spectrum policy of government should not be seen as a money making venture since it makes it difficult for small operators to be involved.

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