The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) has warned that it would not hesitate to revoke the operational licences of Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) that fail to roll out services beyond the stipulated timeframe of service rollout.
The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta who gave the warning recently, said the InfraCos had timeframe for rollout and can never be held for ever, without any attempt to begin the rollout plans.
“Any operator who do not deploy after one year, risk the chances of getting its licence revoked.
Although he recognised the fact that most InfraCos were faced with some challenges, which could negatively affect rollout plan, he however said they were yet to take full advantage of the subsidy initiative of the NCC, which allows them to benefit from the money that NCC set aside as subsidy for rollout.
“We have subsidy in the budget that has been approved by the National Assembly to the tune of N3 billion for the InfraCos to access, and so far, no InfraCos has accessed it. The subsidy is well captured in the budget, stipulating what the money is budgeted for, but the InfraCos are yet to access the subsidy.
“We even reached an agreement on interest to be paid by the NCC if it fails to honour subsidy payment, which is a seven per cent interest, yet no InfraCos has accessed the subsidy,” Danbatta said.
According to hm, in order to address some of the challenges hindering broadband infrastructure rollout, the NCC addressed State Governors at the Governor’s Forum some time ago, and introduced to all the governors, InfraCos licenced to cover their zones.
“After the introduction, we prevailed on the governors not to allow any licensee to deploy in the zones they were not licensed to operate. Since the engagement with the governors, I have not heard any complain from InfraCos on their challenges. I am aware there could be some challenges by they have not official complained to the NCC about their challenges.
“When challenges are brought to us, we will be able to listen to the operators and address them accordingly, Danbatta added.
The broadband implementation committee is aware of the window of opportunity given to the operators to access broadband subsidy, but the operators are also aware that NCC would not just give subsidy without seeing substantial level of work done by the InfraCos. They must show evidence of ongoing rollout plan before they can benefit from the subsidy, Danbatta said.
He was however worried that iConnect, a subsidiary of IHS, one of the InfraCos that was licenced to operate the North-central zone, had to return its licence few weeks ago because it was not being put into commercial use for some reasons.
They wanted a national licence but the NCC plan indicated issuance of a zonal licence. Their licence empowers them to deploy services only in the North-central zone, but they wanted a national licence that will allow them deploy services in all parts of the country and not limited to North-central zone.
We have received the licence and we are going to advertise for another sales process for the North-central zone very soon, Danbatta said.
NCC licensed had seven InfraCos to provide broadband infrastructure for faster broadband rollout, but majority of them are faced with industry challenges that are impeding rollout plan, which the NCC had since recognised.