At a discourse series organised by a full-service commercial law firm, ADVOCAAT Law Practice (ALP), to mark its 15th anniversary, legal and regulatory experts identified the requirements for operationalising mobile virtual networks in Nigeria.
At the hybrid event themed, “Operationalising mobile virtual networks in Nigeria” lawyer and Executive Commissioner at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Adeleke Adewolu, gave the keynote address. He was represented by the Head of Licensing and Authorisation at the NCC, Usman Mamman.
The panellists comprised a partner at ALP, Rotimi Akapo; partner at Squire Patton and Boggs (UK) LLP, Francesco Liberatore; Managing Director of Systegra Technologies Limited, John Adams; and Head of BSS Products EngHpouse Networks, Nikolaj Jensen. The panel was moderated by the Chief Executive Officer of Airbyte Solutions, Folabi Okubajo.
The speakers explained that a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) is a wireless communications services provider that does not own the wireless network infrastructure over which it provides services to its customers.
According to them, an MVNO enters into a business agreement with a mobile network operator (MNO) to obtain bulk access to network services at wholesale rates and then sets retail prices independently.
ALP Founder, Ola Alokolaro, said the theme was chosen to delve into a subject that carries substantial potential for the Nigerian telecoms sector.
Alokolaro said: “The timing of this discourse aligns with the broader global trend towards a more inclusive and dynamic telecoms ecosystem. Many countries have successfully integrated MVNOs, resulting in greater consumer choice, lower costs and improved services.”
“Nigeria, as a leading economy in Africa, stands poised to leverage this model to spur innovation and expand telecommunication services to a broader cross-section of the population. For us, this discourse series is not just a discussion, but a crucial step towards harnessing the full potential of our telecommunications industry.”
Adewolu said the NCC Act 2003 empowers the commission to facilitate investment in mobile virtual networks. He stressed that the licencing framework is designed to induce investment in the telecoms industry; enhance competition by service providers and choice by consumers; facilitate job creation; and enhance the contribution of the telecommunication industry to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Akapo, who heads the Telecommunications, Media and Technology Practice Group of Advocaat Law Practice, gave a breakdown of the licensing framework and legal considerations.
He said: “The MVNOs need to ensure compliance with not only their specific license obligations but the various regulations and guidelines that affect their operations on a day-to-day basis.”
Read also: Advocaat wins Law Firm of the Year Award
The law, Akapo said, provides that priority will be given to licensees that target markets that fall within the unserved and underserved regions. He also explained the contracting requirements, saying the tier an MVNO operates determines the contractual relationships.
Jensen noted that planning, focus and execution were essential in running an MVNO. He urged operators to be specific about the market they operate in and understand the conditions.
Jensen advised: “Know your critical mass and how to reach them; make a detailed description of your offering, the customer journey, and services you will be offering; set your price point based on your offering and test your offering with your target market; create a budget based on funding and forecasted revenue to plan for (phased) investments, and work with partners to validate your approach and to get guidance designing and architecting the right solution.”
Adams, who spoke on opportunities, noted that currency devaluation will increase the cost of sourcing technology, adding that talent exodus will pose challenges to sustainability. He, however, said the projection that there will be a billion interconnected machines and devices by the year 2050 underscores the opportunities for investments.
Alokolaro described the day as momentous for the law firm as it celebrates its 15th anniversary.
ALP is a full-service commercial law firm with extensive experience in advising stakeholders of various sectors of the Nigerian economy. The firm is ranked for its Energy and Infrastructure, Corporate Commercial and Banking and Finance mandates.
Among other awards, in 2019, it was awarded Law Firm of the Year (mid-size practice) in Nigeria by ESQ.