Telcos Proffer Solutions to Fibre Cable Cuts, Seek Collaboration with FG

Emma Okonji

Telecommunications Operators (Telcos) under the aegis of the Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), yesterday, proffered short and long term solutions to incessant fibre cable cuts across the country, while seeking for strategic collaboration with the federal government to address the many challenges facing the telecoms industry.

At a breakfast meeting organised by ATCON in Lagos yesterday, with the theme: ‘The Direct And Indirect Cause And Impact Of Metro, Terrestrial And Submarine Fibre Disruptions (Cuts)–Short, Medium And Long Term Sustainable Solutions’, the operators highlighted the dangers associated with terrestrial and subsea cable cuts and called for strategic collaboration with the federal government to address the issue.

ATCON President, Mr. Tony Emoekpere, who raised some of the business and economic implications of terrestrial and subsea fibre cable cut, said: “We cannot continue to pay lip service to issues and challenges that have constituted stumbling block to our sector growth especially fibre cut. The breakfast meeting aims to enable the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) to look at the issues bothering on metro, terrestrial, submarine fibre disruptions which have become recurring decimal in the Nigerian Telecom industry.”
He said the breakfast meeting would help to strategise and come up with solutions that will address fibre cable cuts, adding that there should be legal compensation for fibre cable cuts.

He spoke about the increase in ICT contribution to Nigeria’s GDP and stressed the need for protection of telecoms facilities across the country.
At a panel session during the breakfast meeting, some short term and long term solutions were proffered as measures that must be taken by government to address incessant fibre cable cuts.

They suggested that the government should declare telecoms assets as Critical National Infrastructure (CNI), and also come up with policies on cost implication and penalties and compensation for damaged telecoms facilities.

The panelists were of the view that the government should come up with policies like ‘Dig Once Policy’ for the implementation of fibre laying to avoid damage of fibre cables during cable laying and road construction.

A communiqué released at the end of the breakfast meeting, suggested that going forward, ducts should be built when new roads are being constructed.

It also suggested the need to put a pool of lawyers together and write all construction companies to pay for the damages done on the fibre network.

The communiqué further said NCC should implement the provision which is in the Nigeria National Broadband Band Plan 2020 – 2025 which states that NCC should have a desk officer in each state of the federation who is expected to be in charge of fibre network in order to minimise fibre cable cuts during roads construction.

The operators spoke about the planned Lagos-Calabar coastal road construction and advised the government to be careful during the construction to avoid damage of the fibre cables on that axis.

The panelists were worried that several solutions have been proffered in the past, stating that because Nigeria is a dysfunctional society, the same challenges kept popping up unattended to. They blamed the government for not addressing the same challenges that have been affecting telecoms companies for long.

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