Chairman of ALTON, Gbenga Adebayo

Emma Okonji

Industry stakeholders have warned that unless the barriers impeding telecoms expansion in the country are removed, the planned rollout of broadband infrastructure by the licensed Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos), would continue to suffer setbacks.

The stakeholders, who gave the warning, said they were convinced that the same challenges bedeviling the telecoms operators would continue to slowdown the activities of InfraCos who had since been licensed by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to rollout broadband infrastructure across the country.

They listed the challenges to include: willful vandalism of telecoms infrastructure by social miscreants, refusal of right of way (RoW) permit for telecoms infrastructure by state governments, and multiple taxes imposed on telecoms operators by agencies of governments, among others.

The stakeholders, therefore called on NCC to rise up to the challenges and remove the barriers in order to achieve hitch-free rollout of InfraCos.

NCC had in 2015, licensed MainOne and IHS as InfraCos to provide broadband infrastructure that will allow telecoms operators to deploy full scale metropolitan fibre-optic infrastructure and associated transmission equipment on an open access, non-discriminatory and price-regulated basis.

While MainOne was licensed to cover Lagos zone, IHS was licensed to cover North-central, with plans to license additional five InfraCOs that will cover the remaining five geopolitical regions of the country, by July 2017.

Worried that MainOne and IHS were yet to rollout broadband infrastructure, and that NCC was yet to License the remaining five InfraCos as promised, the Chairman of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, told THISDAY that the same barriers impeding telecoms expansion were also hunting the planned expansion of broadband infrastructure by the licensed InfraCos.

He said the same barriers were also responsible for the delay in licensing additional InfraCos, and that the same challenges facing telecoms operators would not allow InfraCos to roll out their services. Adebayo therefore, called on NCC to first remove the barriers in order to open up Telcos and InfraCos rollout across the country.

President of the Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Olusola Teniola also told THISDAY that Nigeria suffered slow broadband penetration in the past, despite its five years broadband plan, because the county lacks enough broadband infrastructure to fast-track telecoms development.

According to him, the undersea cables that was berthed at the seashore of the country by submarine cable operators came with huge broadband capacities, yet the capacities were underutilised because the country lacks sufficient broadband infrastructure to distribute the capacities to every nook and crannies of the country.

“NCC must first remove every impeding barrier to broadband deployment, in order to allow for full broadband deployment in the county. We need to experience more broadband connectivity at the last-mile and the InfraCos must be empowered and encouraged by government to roll out wide range of broadband infrastructure for the country,” Teniola said.

Managing Director, Huawei Nigeria, Mr. Frank Li, advised the federal government to begin aggressive investment in broadband deployment in order to boost broadband penetration and achieve the country’s targeted 30 per cent broadband penetration in 2018.