By Emma Okonji
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has said that licensed Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) will soon rollout services across the country, which is expected to improve service quality.
The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, made the disclosure during a recent virtual conversation on the Socio-Economic and Political Impact of COVID-19 on Telecoms and ICT Sector in the country, organised by the Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON).
According to Danbatta, the expected rollout of InfraCos was as a result of the recent slash in Right of Way (RoW) tariffs by some State Governors to N145 per liner meter.
The federal government had in 2013, reached agreement with state governors to maintain a uniform RoW rate of N145 per linear meter, but none of the governors implemented the uniform rate, untill late last month, when few of the governors signed Executive Order to reduce RoW charges to N145 per linear meter. Before now, states charge differently for RoW from N500 to N6, 000.
Danbatta, said with the reduction in RoW charges, InfraCos were expected to help address the challenges of fibre deployment in towns and cities and assist the country to achieve ubiquitous broadband.
Danbatta explained that the Commission would not rest on its oars for speedy roll out of services by the InfraCos to ensure available, affordable and accessible broadband across the country.
InfraCos have been licensed for the past four to five years, but have been burdened by some state policies, especially RoW tariffs, in rolling out services.
Currently, NCC licensed six InfraCos in all the six geopolitical zones of the country, except that of he North Central Zone, that was initially registered, but the company had to return the licence to NCC for its inability to rollout services as a result of rollout challenges, which include high RoW charge.
According to Danbatta: “The network congestion in the telecoms sector that we are experiencing exposes the inadequacy of infrastructure that we have been talking about.
“The telecoms service providers must be commended because in the face of this challenge of inadequacy of infrastructure they have at least provided services of reasonable quality. We hope and pray that this will continue despite the challenges.
“Also, this is the time for leveraging the redundancies in other to contain the challenges of (network) congestion. By redundancies, I mean infrastructure redundancies; that is fiber networks.
“Now, we are all convinced that there is infrastructure deficit in this country and the quickest way we can address this is to roll out fast; deploying more infrastructure through the InfraCos.
“Everything that is needed to commence the infrastructure projects in the various zones, have been done and very soon the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami will provide the exact time that these projects will kick-off.”