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Broadband: It’ll take a miracle to move the 21% to 30% by year end—Teniola

The president of Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Engr. Olusola Teniola has once again, opened up on the reality facing the targeted achievement of 30 per cent broadband penetration by the end of 2018.

Speaking during a recent stakeholders’ forum on issues surrounding the target organized in Lagos by the industry regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), he said the agency has not shown clear signs of doing its part well in meeting the target after all.

The forum dwelt on the study for the determination of cost based pricing for retail broadband and data services’.

Industry experts before now have been able to identify key frustrating factors to achieve the 30 per cent target to include Right of Way access, forex hike, multiple taxation and relative insecurity.

ATCON president argued that “Just to emphasis the point, the INFRACO licenses were created to address the neutrality in accessibility, affordability and availability of undersea fiber into the hinterland that was the missing piece to ensure ubiquitous broadband infrastructure can be made available to the masses”.

Continuing, Teniola averred that “What we witnessed and the records are there for all to see, is the numerous delays and slowing down of government to assist in the realization of the implementation – without government’s full buy-in there were mixed signals sent to the investment community as to exactly how this was going to be realized”.

“So in Jan 2018 we are still yet to witness any rollout of any fiber by the two InfraCo operators that were licensed in 2015-16 and as yet the remaining five InfraCo licences are still pending – with less than 12 months to go, it’ll take a miracle to move the 21% to 30% by any measure,” ATCON boss submitted.

However, in his keynote address at the forum, Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umaru Garba Danbatta, assured that the Commission will not rest on its oars in ensuring that subscribers gets affordable and accessible broadband services at a price, in line with international best practices.

He noted that “Whilst the Commission is happy with this phenomenal growth recorded in the industry, especially in active voice subscriptions, we believe that the next critical phase is to ensure that everyone – wherever they live, and whatever their circumstances – have access to the benefits of broadband and this can only happen with the pervasive deployment of broadband infrastructure and services across the country considering the potential of broadband as a key enabler of national productivity, economic growth and development, social inclusion and cultural enrichment”.

Danbatta who was silent on critical industry bottlenecks raised by stakeholders, kept on explaining the role of the Commission in checking price discrimination, excessive pricing, predatory pricing, margin squeeze and price fixing amongst other things.

NCC used the forum to present its appointed auditor, Messrs’ KPMG to carry out a thorough selection process and price based study, amongst other things.