How NCC will tackle service quality: Prof Danbatta

By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria

The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Prof Umar Danbatta has said the Commission, under his leadership, will take steps to address issues of such as multiple taxation, vandalism and others to ensure that the quality of service (QoS) headache becomes a thing of the past in the country.

The EVC lamented that the Commission has been overwhelmed with complaints from telcos on multiple taxation from the federal, states and local government areas across the country.

According to him, the existence of all these factors would inhibit speedy growth and development of telecoms infrastructures roll-out, especially now that the number of subscribers continues to grow on a daily basis.

He assured that the regulator would ensure considerable improvement in QoS and other parameters, stressing that broadband penetration though low in sub-Saharan Africa, NCC would take steps the ensure that it is improved upon.

Prof Danbatta said, "The more subscribers you have, the more the telecomm services are stretched. They are not stretched above the limit but there is need for urgent measures to be put in place to avoid a situation where we are in like today. Something needs to be done urgently and these measures are measures that the commission can consciously put in place to address the quality of service through making sure that telecoms infrastructure is not vandalised.

"And through the protection of our telecommunication infrastructure, through facilitating the Right of Way which is something that has to do with gaining access to sites and locations where we need to lay infrastructure like fibre cables. We also need to address the issue of multiple taxation at the federal and state levels and as well as at the local government level as various form of taxation are being introduced and the telecomm services providers are complaining about these multiple taxations.

"So these are things that the commission can do on its own and the second category is to prevail on operators to expand by way of having more infrastructure to be able to address the high number of subscribers to sort of accessing their services and the way to do that is also by intervening by introducing subsidy to encourage the service providers to go into provision of telecomm infrastructure which is capital intensive."

He said the fact that the country is leading other countries in mobile broadband penetration does not mean that many people have access. The EVC spoke shortly after a meeting with States Desk Officers on Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) at the Commission's head office in Abuja.

He said, “If you translate the penetration rate that is normally provided in percentage into numbers then you will find over 130 million Nigerians with access to GSM services and of course these very high number of subscribers come with its challenges in terms of the degradation of quality of services.”

According to him, the USPF was established "based on the recommendation of the ITU that all countries and regulators like NCC should set aside certain percentage of what we called annual operation levy which is 40 per cent.

"This is normally set aside to drive the activities of USPF so there are resources available but it is the question of making sure that these resources are used to provide telecommunication services in the areas where telecommunication operators wouldn’t want to venture into.

"So consciously speaking, the USPF is intended to address this and as the unwillingness of operators to go into areas and we have define this as rural areas that are underserved or un-served of telecommunications services so when you undertake projects like the School Knowledge Centres, it can be in such a places where people in the rural areas can go and learn one or two things about ICT to enable them do activities that are multifaceted", Prof Danbatta stated.

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