NCC promises to enable operators deepen broadband penetration

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has promised to provide efficient regulations and support for mobile network operators in the industry to further deepen the penetration of broadband in the country.

Umar Danbatta, executive vice chairman, NCC, who was represented by Oluwatoyin Asaju, deputy director with the commission, made this known while speaking at the 10th edition of the eWorld annual forum held in Lagos recently.

Acording to Asaju, broadband has been globally acknowledged as the foundation for transformation to a knowledge-based economy.

“The world bank has found that a 10 percent increase in broadband penetration in developing countries results in a commensurable increase of 1.38 percent in GDP. It has also been proven that for every 10 percent increase in broadband penetration, a commensurate increase in employment of about two to three percent is achieved. Productivity also increases to between five to 10 percent with a 10 percent increase in broadband penetration,” Asaju said.

“This informs the doggedness of the commission in ensuring that the lacuna between existing and planned fibre infrastructure in Nigeria is narrowed. The commission has therefore set a strategic imperative to ensure access to pervasive broadband through an Open Access Model in line with the National Broadband Plan (NBP),” he added.

Nigeria achieved a 33.08 percent of broadband penetration as at the first quarter of this year, a development that industry stakeholders have described as a great feat, considering the rapid growth from 8.5 percent penetration in 2015.

The telecoms regulator is making moves to further deepen penetration levels to the hinterlands with its plans to deploy Optic Fibre transmission network in the Open Access Model.

As part of efforts to drive the broadband infrastructure licensing and deployment on behalf of the federal government, NCC has concluded the licensing and output-based subsidy negotiations of six Open Access Model Infrastructural Companies (InfraCos) for the country.

“The six Infraco licensees are to cover Lagos, South-West, South-South, South-East, North-West and North-East regions while the process leading to the licensing of an Infraco for North-Central is ongoing. The Infraco licensees are to provide IP fibre Optic capacity to all the 774 LGAs of the federation on an open access, price regulated basis, with a 10 Gbps Point of Access (PoA) capacity in each local government of the federation,” Asaju said.

Already, MainOne, the InfraCo licensed for Lagos, has unveiled its plans to build over 2,000 kilometres of fibre optic infrastructure, to enable broadband connectivity across the state.

Other licensees have also drawn out plans for broadband projects which the NCC says it expects to run for a period of four years. According to the commission, negotiated subsidies will be paid to the Infraco licensees at the attainment of agreed and verified milestones.

The commission says it has also continued to make available wireless spectrum resources to the operators as well as creating enabling environment and a level playing field through various regulatory instruments for the growth of the industry.

Stating that Nigeria cannot be left behind as regards to the deployment of 5G, Asaju said that the commission is ready for 5G as it has made reservations in Egypt for the spectrum to be made available.

“NCC is ready for 5G as a regulator. The commission has made reservations in Egypt for the spectrum to be made available. It is left for the operators and regulators to decide when 5G would be deployed in the country”.

Aaron Ukodie, managing director of Ajomedia Limited, the organisers of the eWorld forum, also stated that Nigeria should in fact begin to talk about 5G and how we intend to achieve the digital revolution.

Commending the commission, Ukodie said, “It is heart-warming that the NCC, network and service providers, the ICT advocacy groups, including the IT media, have worked assiduously to achieve that target and even exceeded it – that today we have 33.3 percent broadband penetration,” he noted.

He explained that the NCC had licensed Infracos and was encouraging them to take access to all parts of the country. He said the NCC had given Infracos a free hand to deploy any technology.

“Several countries are in a race to license 5G spectrum and network operators are deploying 5G. Shouldn’t Nigeria begin to talk about 5G?” he asked.

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