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Fashola lied saying telcos are laying fibre across Nigeria with ease—ALTON

Contrary to the multiple challenges that have crippled licenced telecoms Infrastructure Companies (Infracos) in rolling out fibre optics cables to drive broadband penetration, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola on Thursday, claimed laying of fibre cables are ongoing across the federation. Fashola spoke at a Lagos Youth Town hall meeting tagged: BRF-GABFEST.
He claimed that his office has been approving permits for access to Right of Way (RoW) for telecom firms to lay their fibre cables so as to deepen broadband penetration and seamless access of internet services nationwide.
However, in a telephone interview to track the reality on ground with the Executive Secretary of Association of Licenced Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbolahan Awonuga, decried the claims saying even though majority of the Infracos may have gotten federal approval for RoW, they cannot access states’ approvals to roll out fibre because of high fees on ROW.
He said “It is not very correct for the Minister to say that Infracos are now delivering fibres across the states because he has given them federal permits. Only a federal permit on federal roads cannot allow Infracos to lay fibre because you have to also meet the conditions of state authorities which are harsher.
According to ALTON, “The key issue has remained resistance of the states in agreeing to N145 per linear metre as majority of the states are charging as high as N5,000 and N6,000.”
“For example, for more than two years, MTN Nigeria has secured federal permits to lay fibre along federal roads, but the Kogi State Government denied it access, saying so far the roads are in Kogi, MTN must comply with Kogi State regulations on access to RoW or let the federal government take away their federal roads from their lands.
ALTON Executive Secretary further decried that what is happening to MTN Nigeria in Kogi is the same thing across the states and that is why Infracos are redundant.
According to him, “If you spend over 70 per cent of your budget in paying for state RoW, how do you move forward because what will be remaining for you cannot take you anywhere.”
“However, ALTON is currently meeting with states to workout agreeable fee for ROW so that Infracos can have access to ROW and deliver fibre across the nation, but it has not been easy.
“I think it has become very important explain this issue very well. In the first place, all these RoW fees that are being charged should not be, rather the right thing to do is for an Infraco to come to a state, pay access to service duck, plug and play.
“But there is little or no road in any state that is delivered with service ducks and that is why Infracos are seeking permission to deliver the service duct infrastructure on roads so as to plug and play under lease which is how it is worldwide,” ALTON executive averred.