By Emma Okonji
Telecoms stakeholders under the aegis of the Association of Licenced Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) have rejected the proposed implementation of a Single International Gateway (SIG) for Nigeria.
The SIG is expected to allow all inbound and outbound calls to be routed through a single connectivity pipe.
Although the proposed plan is still under discussion between the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the licenced International Data Access Providers (IDAs), but the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) who are members of ALTON are vehemently kicking against the move and have called on NCC to disregard the implementation proposal from the IDAs.
The Chairman of ALTON, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, told THISDAY that the planned implementation of a single international gateway was not based on national interest.
According to him, the initiative was being driven by the selfish interest of a few individuals who had earlier complained of the current sharing formula of the interconnect agreement between MNOs and IDAs.
The current sharing formula of 30:70 for IDAs and MNOs respectively was said to be a bone of contention.
This, THISDAY learnt, was also causing discomfort among IDAs who felt that the MNOs were making so much money from their investment.
Adebayo said if allowed to be implemented, it would not only stifle growth in the telecoms sector, it would also create market monopoly, where a small group of IDAs would be in charge of the single international gateway that will carry telecoms traffic.
“If implemented, all IDAs, MNOs and International Gateway Operators will connect to the single international gateway to route all incoming and outgoing calls,” Adebayo said.
The licenced International Data Access Providers who are presenting the idea of a single international gateway to NCC, are of the view that the initiative is of national interest and that it would help NCC ensure efficient management including planning, coordination, allocation, assignment, registration, monitoring and use of scarce national resources in the communications sub-sector, including but not limited to frequency spectrum, numbers and electronic addresses, and also promote and safeguard national interests, safety and security in the use of the said scarce national resources.
They also said it would ensure fair competition in all sectors of the Nigerian communications industry and also encourage participation of Nigerians in the ownership, control and management of communications companies and organisations.
The initiative would also help telecommunication operators and service providers solve complex business problems through the creative use of advanced technology and techniques, while empowering fraud investigators to rid the market of illegal SIM box devices, and help MNOs generate more money, the IDAs said.
But according to Adebayo, the single international gateway would create network congestion, since all network operators would be compelled to route their incoming and outgoing calls through the single channel that would be controlled by few IDA operators.