To further propel the growth and development of Nigeria’s broadband agenda, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said it has given licenced infrastructure companies (InfraCos) the liberty of choosing viable areas to deploy infrastructure within their regions. This directive supersedes the earlier mandate to delving into the rural areas.
Speaking at the Virtual Structured Engagement With Stakeholders in the Nigeria Telecom and ICT sector on the new National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 organised by the Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta said this arrangement with InfraCos will enable them work while waiting for the counterpart funding from the federal government.
Prof Danbatta noted that the Commission made this decision as part of measures put in place to ensure that there is an accelerated deployment of infrastructure to pursue and achieve federal government’s broadband agenda.
“The Commission has already commenced some of this consolidation with the directive issued to Infraco licensees to commence immediate roll-out of optic fibre cables (OFC) as contained in their license agreements to all the LGA headquarters by giving them freehand to start from viable areas and gradually move to unviable areas while the expected counter-part funding from Government is being finalized,” he said.
Speaking on the theme, ‘Aggregating the Potential of the Sub-Sector to Meet the New Broadband Set Target Of 70%’, the EVC, who was represented by the by the Director, Digital Economy, NCC, Dr. Austine Nwaulune, also disclosed that the Commission , in the area of Spectrum availability, is finalising the Spectrum Trading Guidelines, as well as collaboration with NigComSat that will make available 400MHz of prime spectrum for Next Generation Network deployment in the near future.
He acknowledged that there was a 3% decline in broadband penetration from a peak of 45.93% in October 2020 to 42.93% in January 2021, which he attributed to the suspension of registration of new SIM cards in December to facilitate smooth linkage and synchronization of the SIM-NIN databases that will not only address some of the security challenges being faced today but it will help determine the truly unique numbers in the Country thus further guiding the country towards achieving the 70% penetration target.
The EVC also highlighted the progress being made in ensuring that state governments comply to the agreement to have a uniform Right of Way (RoW) charge of N145 per square meter. “Collaboration with State Governments has also seen the adoption of the N145/m or outright waiver Right-of-Way (RoW) by six (6) State Governments, although, here we must mention that more needs to be done by the States and Local Governments to ensure full adoption and cascading of the decision for implementation. This notwithstanding, the Commission will not relent in its effort towards addressing the issue RoW.”
While noting that NNBP 2020-2025 has raised the performance bar for the whole telecom industry, Prof. Danbatta is optimistic that: “Being a document crafted by experts and executives, there is no reason why it cannot be achieved to put Nigeria in a firm pedestal of nations with broadband access.”
He assured that the Commission will continue to proactively provide the necessary regulatory interventions which will facilitate the achievement of not only the 70% broadband penetration target but other associated targets as well, which will truly transform the nation’s economy into a Digital Economy.
The Commission’s regulatory thrust towards enabling National Roaming, approval of e-SIM and 5G trials have also aggregated the efforts of the industry players towards achieving the set target of 70% broadband penetration by the year 2025. The country’s broadband penetration stood at 42.93% as at January.
Some of the targets of the NNBP 2020-2025 include, achieving 15Mbps and 25Mbps internet speed in rural and urban areas respectively by 2025; interconnection of 90% of all LGA’s by fibre; 70% Population penetration; 100% of Tertiary Institutions to be within 5Km of a fibre Point of Access (PoA); 60% of all telecom towers to be connected by fibre. Other targets include connection of one (1) major hospital or General hospital per LGA via fibre; reduction of average cost of data to N390/Gb or less; establishment of at least one (1) local assembly or manufacture of smart devices and reduction of RoW charges to N145/m.