NCC At eWorld Forum, Reaffirms Commitment To Deepening Broadband Access In Nigeria
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By Rommy IMAH
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said that its continuous doggedness in ensuring that the lacuna between the existing and planned fibre infrastructure in Nigeria is narrowed, is informed by the fact that Broadband has the inherent potential to address issues relating to sustainable development and simultaneously facilitate socio-economic development, while instigating transformative change in all the sectors of the economy.
The Commission noted that in order to address this gap, it has set a strategic imperative to ensure access to pervasive Broadband through an Open Access Model in line with the National Broadband Plan, being one of the initial strategic actions of the Federal Government, through the Commission, in the country’s journey towards facilitating the availability, affordability and accessibility to Broadband infrastructure and services.
Speaking on Monday in Lagos at the 10th Edition of eWorld Forum & Awards themed: ‘Roadmap to Broadband Everywhere,’ and organized by Ajomedia Limited, Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta said the deployment of Optic Fibre transmission network has been adopted in the “Open Access Model” to bridge the current digital gap and deliver fast and reliable broadband services to households and businesses.
“The success of this model is evident in the tremendous growth witnessed in the provision of broadband services by all major players in the industry through one technology or the other. As at 1st quarter of this year, Nigeria achieved 33.08% Broadband penetration, thus 63 million Nigerians are presently connected to broadband Internet services. This is an encouraging leap from the 8.5% penetration in 2015,” Prof. Danbatta said.
Listing the efforts so far made by the Commission to deepen broadband penetration in the country, Prof. Danbatta represented at the event by Engr. Oluwatoyin Asaju, Deputy Director, Spectrum Administration at the NCC, said in addition to establishing a Broadband Implementation & Monitoring Committee (BIMC) to drive the broadband infrastructure licensing and deployment, the Commission, on behalf of the Federal Government has concluded the licensing, and output based subsidy negotiations of six Open Access Model Infrastructure 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 on-going. The Infraco licensees are to provide IP fiber 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..
“The Commission has also continued to make available wireless Spectrum resources to the operators, as well as creating enabling environment and level playing field through various regulatory instruments, for the growth and development of the industry, and the overall impact on the socio-economic well-being of our nation.
“Some of these resources cover capacity and coverage spectrum in the 2.6 GHz band and re-farming of part of the 1800 MHz and re-planning of the 800 MHz bands. Other resources made available are in the 70/80 GHz bands and 5.4 GHz bands, with plans at advanced stage to open up the 60 GHz band for unlicensed use.”
Prof. Danbatta said the Commission does not only believe that the growth of mobile broadband, in particular, offers exciting potential for raising awareness of sustainable development issues, by connecting, informing and educating many people around the world-especially in developing countries, but that it can be a projectile that will catapult Nigeria and other developing nations to be offered a seat at the table with other countries who have achieved remarkable feats in sustainable development.
“Broadband can reduce poverty and inequality, help ensure access to health and education, help to mitigate climate change, promote peace and international cooperation, and ensure sustainable development in the decades to come.”
He said that guidelines on Spectrum Trading and Commercial Satellite Deployment have been introduced in the industry while guidelines on National Roaming and Active Infrastructure Sharing are already at an advanced stage.
“All these resources and regulatory instruments amongst others are needed in a complimentary manner to ensure and enhance the deployment of Broadband Infrastructure, and thereafter impact on the Quality of Experience of Broadband consumers,” he said.
The NCC Chief Executive Officer reiterated his call on government at all levels to curtail the issues of multiple taxation and regulation of right of way as well as timely and simplified approval processes for site acquisition and harmonized right of way charges in the industry, as this according to him, will enhance the spread of Broadband to the unserved and underserved areas of Nigeria.
Earlier in his welcome address, managing director, Ajomedia Limited/Editor, eWorldNews, organisers of the eWorld Forum, Mr. Aaron Ukodie said since inception in 2009, the eWorld Forum has on annual basis focused largely on broadband and digital development.
He said it was heart-warming that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), network and service providers, ICT advocacy groups, including the IT Media, have worked so assiduously to achieve the National Broadband Strategy target, and even exceeded it, resulting to the current 33.3% broadband penetration.
“We cannot continue to dwell in our present achievement; we should begin to think about setting for us, a new agenda- that of achieving a digital revolution. To achieve this revolution, the regulator has to focus more on enabling the players.
“The environment should be more investment-friendly than it is now. We need to take access to the underserved and unserved across the country. services need to be more affordable, and we need digital infrastructure,” Ukodie said.
He said whereas new technologies and innovations are today emerging, including 5G, Artificial Intelligence, and Internet of Things, several countries across the globe are in a race to license 5G spectrum while network operators are deploying 5G technology.
Ukodie raised some posers: “Shouldn’t Nigeria begin to talk about 5G? When and how are we going to be able to achieve the digital revolution? Are we in Nigeria going to be able to create or build Innovative cities, where homes and public places, transport systems and streets are driven or connected to and by IT?”
The choice of theme for this year’s forum, according to Mr. Ukodie and the sub-themes chosen was to address these posers.
L-R: Ajibola Olude, ATCON Exec. Secy; Muyiwa Ogungboye, MD, eStream Networks; Olajide Aremu, MD, Xperteam; Oluwatoyin Asaju, Dep. Dir. Spectrum Admin, NCC; Aaron Ukodie, Editor, eWorldNews; Tunde Coker, MD, Rack Centre; A guest; Gbolahan Awonuga, ALTON Exec. Secy at the 2019 eWorld Forum held in Lagos on Monday….