• Sunday, July 14, 2024
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TCN clears Phase3 telecoms for operation after 18 months halt in business


Transmission Company (TCN) has written to the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) to grant operational licence to Phase3 Telecoms and Alheri Engineering Limited for seamless operation of concessionaires.

Phase3 Telecom3, an independent fibre optic infrastructure and telecoms service provider, had its operations halted in 2018 after the company was accused of owing the Federal Government of Nigeria N27.18 billion over fibre optic agreement with TCN and its concession agreement was terminated.

Although the company strongly refuted the allegations, saying despite challenges faced in deploying infrastructure – including multi-year delays in linesmen allocation by TCN and devaluation/depreciation of the Nigerian currency, the company made sure to pay all equipment rental and concession fees.

With this new development, Phase3 Telecoms and Alheri Engineering can now have access to their point of presence (POPs) in the TCN substation after about 18 months it was down and out of service.

The new directive by the TCN grants operational access to Phase3 Telecoms and Alheri Engineering to POPs, concessioned fibre optic cable and power supply connectivity.

Recall that Phase3 complained at the time that it inherited dilapidated fibre optic networks from TCN but was still able to deploy more than 2000km of fibre and installed state-of-art transmission equipment along with the rehabilitation of the existing fibre.

“We have thus far expended more than $100 million as capital and operating expenditure on the project,” the company said in a statement at the time signed by Adebayo Azeez, director, legal/regulatory services, Phase3 Telecom.

Speaking with BusinessDay on what this means to Nigeria’s telecoms industry and plans to deepen broadband penetration, Olusola Teniola, president, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), says, “The industry is keen to understand whether the issue has been totally finalised because we want stability.

“This is a welcome move as it also helps towards the 120,000km of fibre that the Nigerian Broadband Plan (NBP) seeks to build by 2025. Phase3 Telecoms and Alheri Engineering have contributed over 3,500km of fibre, but while the fibre wasn’t available and there was a dispute, alternative arrangements have been made by the industry players. Over the 18 months period when they were halted, we had access to other fibre networks that were used for national long distance fibre.

“We now need to know that there is certainty in ensuring that this fibre will now be available at the quality expected, so that we can plan and include the thousands of kilometres of fibre in the NBP.”

Stakeholders say this will necessitate harmonisation of the Right of Way (Row) charges for deployment of fibre optics on power lines (concession fees) to be at par with other RoW charges available in the telecom industry.

Industry watchers expect that this move will allow the companies continue to provide affordable and robust service solutions that will see customers and other businesses rapidly leveraging the opportunities of reliable broadband internet across Nigeria, and creating a truly digital economy.