Broadband: FG’s intervention may yield success

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… As Lagos slashes cost of RoW  by 85%

BY OLABISI OLALEYE

Indications have emerged that  the Federal Government’s effort  to ensure that 40 per cent Nigerians have unhindered broadband access may soon become a reality as the  Lagos State Government recently, assured of its readiness to slash Right of Way (RoW) by 85 per cent as long as the operators are ready to comply with its directives.

This decision was reached last week in a closed door meeting at the State House, where issues of tax, levies, decommissioned sites and Right of Way fees mitigating against quality of service in the state  were discussed.

At the meeting featuring, Governor Fashola, members of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, Commissioner of Science and Technology, Mr. Biyi Mabadeje, Commissioner of Works, Mr. Obafemi Hamzat and officials from Etisalat, Main One, MTN, Globacom deliberated on issues of the incidents of fees and taxes, restrictions on the rollout of base stations and fibre networks, the decommissioning of sites.

ATCON members at the meeting expressed concerns that the issues were making it difficult for operators to rollout the much needed ICT infrastructure in Lagos state.

Meanwhile stakeholders forum, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Executive Vice Chairman,Dr. Eugene Juwah,in Lagos during  the Second Annual Consultative Forum on Engineering and Emerging Technologies organised by the  Commission  had earlier reiterated that it will use interventory regulation to ensure that access to broadband is achieved.

Juwah confirmed that part of the regulatory issues that needs to be addressed in order to harness the potentials of Nigeria’s nascent broadband industry is the access to infrastructure by the existing and new players.

The EVC who was represented by the commission’s Executive Commissioner, Stakeholders Engagement, Okechukwu Itanyi, noted that access to and availability of spectrum resources is also a prerequisite to achieving broadband provision.

“Current development in the Nigerian telecommunication industry has created a few vertically integrated players who have built infrastructures that are being leveraged on to compete in the provision of broadband services. These infrastructures and resources are only available to new players at a premium as their replication and acquisition of the required resources are both capital intensive and have long lead times for delivery. We added that the antecedent has resulted in unfavourable pricing of services like widespread broadband access.

The NCC boss hinted that regulatory intervention in the market is to ensure open and non discriminatory access by all players to reduce barriers and other challenges.

According to him,this informed the open access model which has given birth to telecoms infrastructure company (InfraCos).

He noted that addressing the main barriers of entry in the industry is would boost competition, increase innovations by players and also improve penetration of broadband services.

Meanwhile, experts in the telecoms industry have reiterated the need for service providers to engage in active telecoms infrastructure sharing so as to achieve projections in the national broadband policy.They noted that active infrastructure sharing was part of what the advantage being leveraged in the advanced telecoms markets.

However, Director of Public Policy, Middle East and Africa, Peter Lyons for GSM Association in a presentation cautioned NCC not to force operators in areas where they are going to engage in infrastructure sharing.  Adding that the regulator should provide a platform for safer competition among the operators.

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