NCC licenses more Infrastructure companies


The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has licensed two additional infrastructure companies (InfraCos) with a view to bridging the extant broadband infrastructure inadequacies in the industry.

The issuing of the new licences is coming just as the telecoms industry is said to be facing over N1.8 trillion infrastructure deficit in the deployment of some key infrastructure.

The two new licensees, one of which is Zinox Technologies, were issued licences last December, sources from NCC said.

Two InfraCo licensees including MainOne for South-West and IHS for the North Central were licensed in 2015 by the telecoms regulator.

The licensing of the new InfraCo, thus, bring the total number of licensed players to aggressively drive wholesale broadband services to four.

In line with its Open Access Model (OAM) towards achieving pervasive broadband network in the country, the NCC had decided to licence seven InfraCo across all the six geo-political zones of the country and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The move is part of the Commission’s resolves to accelerate broadband network deployment and open access approach in order to deepen digital economy in the country.

While the NCC confirmed it has issued the four licences, it has also promised its decision to ensure it licenses the remaining three before the end of February.

“So far, we’ve had four out of seven InfraCos. Before the end of February, the remaining 3 InfraCos will also be fully licensed,” said Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management at NCC, Mr. Sunday Dare.

He reiterated the Commission’s commitment toward ensuring the achievement of a 30 per cent broadband penetration by the end of this year.

Dare gave the assurance of the various initiatives such as re-framing of some frequency spectra, ongoing discussion with state governors to grant timely Right of Ways (RoWs) to operators to deploy equipment in their states, among others, towards accelerating broadband infrastructure deployment.

Till date, broadband penetration still stands at 21 per cent, according to official data from the telecoms regulator.

Despite the $70 billion investment in the industry, Nigeria’s telecoms industry is still faced with a deficit of over N1.8 trillion.

From fibre optic cables laid and base transceiver stations (BTS), the regulator has said there is a huge infrastructure gulf that need to be filled by the industry in order to accelerate deployment of infrastructure necessary to achieve ubiquitous broadband penetration in the country.

According to reports from the NCC, while the country currently needs minimum of 80,000 base stations scattered across different parts of the country to achieve effective service delivery, the operators put together currently have less than 40,000 base stations.

In the same vein, Nigeria is also facing an investment deficit of N164 billion in the area of fibre optic deployment to drive broadband accessibility across the country.

The situation, which is worsened by the lack of direct access to foreign exchange (forex) of dollars by telecoms companies coupled with the high cost and, sometimes, outright denial RoW for the operators to embark on fibre optic infrastructure rollout, is threatening the target by Nigeria to achieve a desired level broadband penetration by the end of this year.

In line with the National Broadband Plan (NBP) 2013-2018, the country has an auspicious target of 30 per cent penetration by December, this year.

From less than six per cent in 2013, the country has only been able to achieve 21 per cent broadband penetration as of last year, according to the NCC official data.

But to achieve its goal of pervasive broadband penetration, Nigeria needs over 120,000 kilo meters of metropolitan fibre networks interconnected across the country, according to NCC EVC, Prof. Umar Danbatta.

According to Danbatta, only 38,000 kilo meters have been covered so far.

This thus represents a deficit of 82,000 kilometers of fibre optic deployment, or N164 billion investment deficit.

In the worst case scenario, it costs a telecoms company an average of N2 million to build a single kilometer of fibre optic, President, Medallion Communications, Mr. Iyke Nnamani disclosed to this newspaper.

To address the 83,000 kilometre of fibre optic, therefore, our correspondent gathered that operators require about N164 billion to bridge the infrastructure gap.

Meanwhile, Danbatta has called on the Federal Government to ensure that all the 36 states governments of the federation adhere to the resolution of National Economic Council on the RoW charges, which stipulates N145 per meter for laying fibre network in every part of the country.

“The Right of Way issue is something that refuses to go away despite the existence of a document guiding what should be charged. Currently nobody is complying with the provision of that document,” he lamented.

While noting that though, the NCC cannot compel the state governments to charge N145 per meter for fibre, Danbatta said the Federal Government can, however, meet with the governors and extract a commitment from them, to ensure that NEC’s provision is strictly adhered to,” he noted.



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