‘Nigeria Needs Harmonised Charges on RoW to Deepen Broadband Penetration’

Excited that Nigeria has currently attained 22 per cent broadband penetration, up from the 10 per cent in 2012, the Chief Executive Officer of Phase3 Telecom, Mr. Stanley Jegede has said the country can still meet up with its 30 per cent broadband penetration target as contained in the National Broadband Policy, if only the governments of all states of the federation, adhere to the recent N145/metre length charge on Right of Way (RoW).

Jegede, who was responding to a recent interview granted THISDAY by the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, commended the NCC for its role in ensuring ubiquitous broadband penetration in the country at affordable rate, but insisted that the NCC must prevail on state governments to adhere to the agreed N145/metre length charge on RoW, if the country must attain the planned 30 per cent broadband penetration by the end of the year.

“What Nigeria needs is harmonisation of Right of Way to deepen broadband penetration in the country. The NCC has been able to reach agreement with the state governments on a fee of N145/mitre length for RoW, which is a good development. States must therefore adhere to this harmonised fee and stop their indiscriminate charges on RoW, which oftentimes, affect the bottom-line of telecoms operations.

“The fees and levies are so outrageous that they impede faster broadband deployment, and unless the harmonised fee is strictly adhered to by all state governments, the country will continue to suffer slower broadband penetration.
“We see telecoms operators struggling to ensure they achieve faster broadband rollout, but they are always faced by the challenge of arbitrary charges in RoW and multiple taxation from state governments and their agencies,” Jegede said.

Nigerians wants connectivity that is affordable and the only way to achieve it is through harmonised billing system, he added.

Head, Corporate Communications at Phase3 Telecom, Morayo Nwabufo said, “Our dream is to turn smaller communities into ICT hubs and make our cities to become smart cities that are fully connected, and this can only be achieved if we have harmonised billing system for RoW.

“If this is not achieved, arbitrary charges on RoW would continue to increase cost of operation and cost of broadband deployment, which of course will affect broadband penetration across the country.”

Listing the operational cost of deploying broadband, Nwabufo said, “We are faced with cost of importation of fibre equipment, since they are not produced in Nigeria, cost of transmitting capacity from one location to another, cost of deployment and logistics, and all these costs add to the overall cost of broadband deployment.”

Should Nigeria maintains harmonised RoW charges, it will help telecoms operators like Phase3 Telecom to roll out its fibre optic broadband infrastructure to more areas in the county, thus giving more access to connectivity to a majority of people and business, Nwabufo said, adding that ubiquitous access to broadband, will help in providing additional solutions that will help organisations succeed in their business, especially in rural communities.

A local farmer in Nigeria can have access to a mechanised farmer in America and share ideas on how best to increase agricultural produce. Telemedicine will improve if we have good broadband penetration, because patients can have access to doctors that are far away from them. E-Commerce is another area of value add, because it will enable more people have access to the internet to transact various kinds of businesses, she said.

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