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Since the issuance of the first two licences for Lagos and North Central Zones to MainOne Cable Company and IConnect group more than three years ago, not much has been covered by the telecoms services companies due to encumbrances’ linked to ease of doing business.
Whereas North Central Licensee, IConnect has thrown in the towel due to the regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) refused its demand for additional space, it was not clear if Mainone had been able to resolve preliminary rollout issues that hobble its takeoff in Lagos.
Only recently in Lagos at a Media Roundtable with the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta, he revealed that “A major milestone was achieved recently with the licencing of four remaining Infracos.”
“Recently Zinox Technologies Limited was licenced for broadband infrastructure provision for South East zone, while Brinks Integrated Solutions Limited, a subsidiary of Mainone Cable Limited had earlier been licenced to provide services in Lagos while IHS was issued a licence to cover the North Central Zone, including Abuja.
Continuing, Danabtta noted that the Infraco licences are based on the NCC’s Open Access Model (OAM) in line with the National Broadband Plan (NBP).
“Licences are being processed for South South, South West and North West zones,” Danbatta added.
Explaining issues surrounding the terms and conditions for the licences, NCC boss averred that Infracos must roll out visibly in one year after issuance of the licence, or they have their licences withdrawn.
Industry analysts say even though NCC had introduced subsidy for the Infracos on attainment of deployment milestones in addition to the cheapness and local content policy of the licence issuance, the federal government and the regulator still have so much to do in encouraging the licensees.
Before now, several industry experts have listed the factors militating against early delivery of Infracos to include vandalism, Right of Way issues with different states governments, forex crisis and fibre cuts in the course of road construction.
Amongst these challenges, observers say the government and NCC have a lot to do in encouraging the Infracos.
Whereas some experts say federal government needs to prevail on states governments to reduce levies and taxes on RoW access, others say the NCC should lead a campaign on behalf of Infracos to press for waivers in accessing forex.
On the other hand, NCC should try to partner with the Police and even local vigilante and the NSCDC to protect delivered infrastructure from being vandalized.
Checks across the federation show that upon the licencing of all seven Infracos, not much is on ground to show seriousness to deliver the facilities due to inability of licensees to handle issues that are over and above their reach but within the powers of the government.