NCC: Proposed National Roaming Will Enhance Seamless Communication


Emma Okonji

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has allayed the fears that the planned introduction of national roaming among telecoms operators by the NCC, would worsen the poor state service quality in the country, insisting that the service will rather boost seamless communication among subscribers in the telecoms sector.

The Assistant Director, Legal and Regulatory Services at NCC, Helen Obi, made the clarification in Abuja, while giving detailed insight into the planned introduction of the national roaming service.

According to her, “The Commission expects that national roaming will further promote seamless communication of subscribers as they will be able to roam on the network of other service providers where their own service provider is unavailable or has limited network coverage.”
NCC is however mindful of the possible negative impact that the national roaming may have on service quality and Mobile Number Portability (MNP), issues of fair competition, billing and reconciliation and appropriate roaming agreements.

The Executive Commissioner, Technical Services at NCC, Ubale Maska, however, noted other issues that may arise if national roaming is allowed such as the extent of regulation required and the possibility that operators may relax in their efforts to rollout infrastructure in underpopulated areas in anticipation that another operator will do so and provide roaming services in those areas. Uale made the remarks during a consultative forum organised by NCC, to discuss grey areas in the proposed national roaming plan.

He therefore enjoined all participants at the forum to freely make their contributions and raise issues that would assist the Commission in coming up with the right regulatory decision that would enhance the overall growth of the industry.

NCC had in December last year, in pursuant to its practice of industry-wide consultations in carrying out its regulatory functions, published a consultation paper, in order to garner industry perspectives towards developing a regulatory instrument for the provision of national roaming services in Nigeria, and the Commission received a total of 10 submissions from the relevant stakeholders.

National roaming refers to the ability of a cellular subscriber to automatically make and receive voice calls, send and receive data, or access other services, including data services, when travelling outside the coverage area of the home network, by means of using a visited network.

It is a type of service or facility which enables the subscriber of one operator to utilise the facilities of another operator with whom the subscriber has no direct pre-existing service or contractual relationship to place an outgoing call or receive an incoming call. National roaming, which is a form of infrastructure sharing, reduces duplication of networks in less populated and remote areas.