The NCC plans to expand broadband penetration by issuing MVNO licenses

Ken Ibenne

Ken Ibenne

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is preparing to implement a licensing framework for the development of Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) in Nigeria, paving the way for widespread internet penetration in the country’s unserved and underserved areas.

The commission has also established contact with a European corporation that is offering grants and loans to support the deployment of broadband infrastructure in Nigeria as part of the country’s digital economy growth.

Meanwhile, the commission found that infracos’ inability to raise take-off capital to begin infrastructure deployment, state governments’ failure to honor the agreement with stakeholders to peg the right of way (RoW) at N145/meter, and some state governments’ actions, such as canceling existing RoW and awarding exclusive RoW to one company in the states, are impeding broadband penetration in the country.

Prof Umar Danbatta, the NCC’s Executive Vice Chairman, stated this at the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCONNational )’s Strategic Mobilization for the Actualization of the National Broadband Target of 70% in Abuja. He noted that some states’ outright refusal to even discuss RoW with licensed regional infracos, as well as mobile network operators’ failure to sign off-take agreements with the licensed infracos – all of this would have frightened the infraco

He noted that there are inequitable license requirements that require infracos to utilize higher specs and standards for infrastructure deployment, and that the Commission is actively looking into the matter.

Challenges limiting the achievement of the NNBP’s 70% broadband penetration target are not insurmountable, according to Danbatta, as the commission’s multiplicity of initiatives, if given the necessary momentum, can boost broadband penetration to well over 80% before 2025.

“Other challenges,” he remarked. Since the beginning of telecom liberalisation in 2001, insecurity in many parts of the country, a lack of adequate publicity, sensitization of critical stakeholders, and the government’s failure to plough back part of the proceeds of spectrum fees into infrastructure development have all hampered the achievement of the broadband target.”

According to the NCC’s chairman, two successful bidders (MTN Nigeria Limited and Mafab Communications Ltd) have been awarded 5G spectrum licenses, which would result in a tremendous increase in broadband penetration in Nigeria.

Earlier, ATCON President Ikechukwu Nnamani stated that the event was organized to facilitate a dialogue between the government and key stakeholders in the Nigerian Telecom and ICT sectors in order to provide long-term solutions to issues that are likely to obstruct the achievement of the National Broadband Target before the National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 expires.

Minister of Communications and Digital Economy Isa Ali Pantami stated in his remarks that the Federal Government’s Broadband Plan, which aims to reach 70% broadband penetration by 2025, is built on four pillars: infrastructure, policy, demand drivers, and funding.

Pantami, who was represented by Mallam Abdul Gambo Usman, Deputy Chairman of the National Broadband Plan Initiative, declared that the Federal Government intends to reduce the cost of data to N390 per gigabyte while ensuring that 70% of Nigerians have access to data.

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