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ATCON calls for early allocation, sales of spectrum to grow broadband penetration

President of Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Mr. Olusola Teniola has called on the government to immediately start thinking about early allocation and licensing of telecoms spectrum in order to give bite to the campaign of the government in driving broadband delivery in 2017.

In an interview, he said allocation and utilisation of spectra would contribute to the growth of mobile broadband penetration in rural areas of the country, adding that the options presented at the last year’s Spectrum Trading Forum hosted by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in 2016, should be explored and implemented in 2017.

According to him, the migration of analogue TV to digital TV should be a major focus during 2017 and this should free up more broadband type spectra that will allow high speed or superfast broadband to be easily rolled out.

Teniola said “Until these are achieved, 2017 may witness more ‘refarming’ of spectrum usage amongst the mobile network operators (MNOs) and a gradual push to 4G type speeds with NCC having to put in place more enforcement to ensure spectrum is effectively being used to meet service quality standards across the industry”.

Explaining more on broadband infrastructure and penetration will shape activities this year, ATCON boss said 2017 is the year when we need to have implementable programmes in place to ensure we are on track to achieve the National Broadband Plan (NBP) of 30 per cent penetration by end of 2018.

To him, “The ICT industry would need all the government agencies in charge of and responsible for infrastructure at state level to work with and support the roll-out of much needed fibre optic metro infrastructure that supports the whole eco-system to deliver on the promises made in the NBP.

“Furthermore, the industry needs government policies in place that will attract much needed investments to support the capital expenditure programmes that should be undertaken to realise the country’s vision of a digital transformation through smart cities, e-Government and Internet of Things (IoT). The infrastructure that is rolled out for support broadband services needs to be fully protected from vandalisation, theft and destruction and therefore the enforcement of the Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) under the Cybercrime bill needs to be enacted as soon as possible.

Barring his mind on issues surrounding licensing of Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) that will drive deployment of broadband infrastructure across the country, Teniola said for Nigeria to realise the National Backbone Network (NBN) the Open Access Model needs to be fully implemented to the ‘letter’ and hence the remaining licences need to be given out within the first quarter of 2017.

Again, he suggested that “Issues surrounding the project execution in each geo-political region will need speedy intervention by federal and state government’s collaboration to avoid experiences observed in 2016 with the InfraCos that were awarded licences to cover Lagos and North Central regions”.

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