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Worried by multiple taxation, ATCON set to meet Govs over RoW

Rising from the 2017 edition of the Telecoms Executives and Regulators’ Forum (TERF) held weekend in Lagos by the Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), indications have emerged on fresh moves by telecoms operators to meet with all the 36 states governors on the need to provide soft landing on issues and taxes relating to Right of Way (RoW) to fast forward delivery of infrastructure to drive broadband penetration.

Otherwise, some ATCON members are beginning to understand that the body language of the regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), may have failed to achieve the needed seamless access to states in the laying of fibre optic cables in the last couple of years.

Business Hilights recalls that the regulator had been approaching several states’ governments on the issue for too long with abysmal results.

Disturbed by not so encouraging results, the chief executive officer of Medallion Group, a leading data centre in Nigeria, Mr. Iyke Nnamani, in his sub mission, said “Some of us at ATCON are looking at the possibility of meeting with the 36 states governors to explain to them, the need to give telecoms and infrastructure companies, easy access so that we can wire the country with the needed fibre optic cables which is the most strategic infrastructure in the quest for broadband penetration”.

“During the meeting, issues bordering on taxes, vandalism and partnerships will be on the table and we believe that such a synergy is what is needed now if broadband penetration target in Nigeria must be met in record time.

He linked the delays in rolling out by even the announced Infrastructure Companies (Infracos) to issues bordering on RoW which states chief executives can handle with just an executive order.

However, he expressed fears on the workability of Infracos considering the yet unresolved issues of infrastructure sharing, saying “If we can get infrastructure sharing correctly, the issue of wiring the nation with fibre optic can be said to have been resolved”.

Responding, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta, said the issue of Open Access Model (OAM) and infrastructure sharing is final as far as broadband infrastructure is concerned.

Danbatta, represented by Engineer Bako Wakil, Deputy Director, Spectrum Administration, said the NCC and federal government would have covered mileages in delivering the needed infrastructure but for the laws which also empowers the state government critical powers to decide certain matters in the industry.

He insisted that much negotiation is still needed in the process with governors so that the set targets can be met.

In his moderation of the lead session, the President of ATCON, Engineer Olusola Teniola expressed serious concerns on the possibility of achieving the 30 per cent target of broadband come next year considering the lingering issue of RoW and forex crisis frustrating the industry.

In his argument, director, external relations at Ntel, Mr. Osondu Nwokoro, decried weakness on the side of the government in doing some of the things already agreed and laid down in the journey to the nation’s broadband penetration.

According to him, an issue of delivering WiFi Hotspots across Nigeria is yet to begin by the government.

He said the WiFi market segment which can drive penetration is yet to begin in any part of the country.

The two-day event ended on Saturday with Nigeria tech Innovation and Telecoms Award (NTITA), where leading performers in the industry were awarded laurels for their contributions in the sector within the year.

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