NCC in industry-wide broadband consultation
By Lukas Ajanaku, Lagos, Nigeria
The Regulator of Nigeria's telecoms sector, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has promised to embark on an industry-wide consultation to cross-fertilise ideas on its broadband expansion initiatives so that it will be in line with global standards.
Dr Eugene Juwah, executive vice chairman and CEO of the commission disclosed this in Abuja while playing host to the members of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) led by its president, Engr Titi Omo-Ettu during a 'working meeting' of ATCON with the NCC on Broadband Expansion Programmes.
Juwah said broadband expansion was of paramount importance to the management of the regulatory agency, adding that steps have already been taken in that respect.
“Soon, the Commission will embark on industry-wide consultations where all issues related to our broadband plans will be dissected and we hope that ATCON will be part of that process," he said.
“We have shared notes with the International Telecommunications Union, ITU, on these strategies and models and the global telecom regulator has been quite supportive. We want to ensure that our strategies and models tally with global standards for sustained growth while addressing a peculiar local environment. In the course of this meeting, we may be able to also compare notes with ATCON which has been very active in articulating ideas on how best Nigeria can benefit from broadband opportunities,” the EVC told his guests.
According to him, the management of NCC considers this meeting as very vital as the initiative strikes at the very heart of its aspiration to continuously consult with the key stakeholders in taking regulatory decisions and actions.
Juwah recalled that from the onset, the issue of broadband availability and penetration in Nigeria is very dear to the hearts of the Commission, stressing that it is one of the key areas that NCC has indicated it will focus on in the next few years.
“You may be aware that we have taken various steps to actualise our broadband dream. We have articulated a strategy for the implementation of the Broadband Master Plan based on infrastructure sharing. We have indeed developed a model based on ‘Open Access’ in which the role of the Network Operator is distinct from those of the Service Providers. In this arrangement, the network provider offers access to the service providers on a non-discriminatory basis in a competitively neutral environment. Service providers, or corporations, or institutions, or even the public are allowed to access services in line with their needs.
“Underlining these models and strategies are issues of availability, affordability, stimulation of demands for services, attraction of investments, creation of more employment opportunities, penetration of services to the nooks and crannies of the country, improving governance and energizing the economy,” Juwah said.
Responding, ATCON's chief, Omo-Ettu, said its association's motivation is the need to complement the work of the NCC in all ways that it can so that the industry will progress with little stress.
“In this particular case and at this time, we have reasons to be happy that we are in phase with the Commission on the matter of expanding the frontiers of Broadband internet access for Nigerians. If access is widespread and affordable, it promotes the businesses of those who invest in our industry and whose investments our Association is obliged to always protect,” Omo-Ettu said.
“Our reason for initiating this meeting is to enable us compare notes with the Commission on its Broadband Expansion Vision, and harmonise our plans with the Commission’s. Also, we seek the Commission’s ear and its support,” he said.
He added that the meeting would give ATCON's leadership an opportunity to listen to the Commission’s plans, ask questions and have answers to take back to its members, “many of whom are waiting for us to kick-start a viable programme of expanding access to Nigerians wherever they may be.”