Investigation by National Daily has revealed that there is chances that internet services will start to display signs of poor quality of service are imminent due to inability of about 17 Internet Services Providers (ISPs) whose license had expired since February to renew them.
Findings by National Daily from the website of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) show that no fewer than 17 ISPs’ licences are due for renewal, while about 22 licences will expire next year, thereby making it 39 ISP operators with expired or almost expired individual licences.
Industry analysts argue that the decline in the number of ISPs in the country is due to many factors ranging from harsh economic environment and the hostile competition from the big operators.
Additional details show that “Individual licence category costs N500,000 for a period of five years and the failure of 39 ISPs to remit N19.5m to the NCC will call for regulatory sanctions, which may lead to the grounding of their operations”.
“There are currently 98 ISP licences in the individual category operational in the country. The ISP licences are given to operators with technical capacity to offer Internet services to the populace, and is renewable over a period of five years for as long as the licensee is holding the licence.”
Whereas two firms namely, ACC Broadcast Multimedia and Adiv Networks Nigeria’s licences had expired onFebruary 28 this year, other affected companies, whose licences are expiring at different times after February this year, are Chinto Technologies, Internet Solutions Nigeria, Telcoworks Connect Limited, Sea-Net Technologies Nigeria Limited, EMC Networks Nigeria Limited, Ambion Wireless, Atlantic Geodynamics Nigeria, VPS Technologies, Trinitas Apo Limited and Suburban Broadband.
Others in this category are Samira Communications Systems Limited, E-Sense Technology Solutions, Excelsimo Networks and Kropmann Communications.
More details from NCC website showed that ISPs whose licences will expire next year include Wavetek Nigeria Limited, Metronic Satellite Communications, West Atlantic Computers Limited, First Wave Networks, Zeta-Web Nigeria, Centre Point Technologies & Engineering Limited, Netfocus Technologies, Coscharis Technologies, and ClearSky Broadband Ventures.
Others are BAT Computer Technologies, Harpora Nigeria Limited, Pegma Technologies, Micabe Services Limited, Flex Communications, Host Quarters, Softwire Digital Solutions, LSC Technology, Backbone Connectivity Network, Simbanet Nigeria Limited and Content Oasis.
In an interview, the Director in charge Licensing and Authorisation at NCC, Ms. Funlola Akiode, said, “The problem facing the ISPs is worrisome; active ISPs in the country are not coming up for licence renewal because of their poor ability to compete with the ‘Big Four’.”
While observing that “the commission has licensed a total number of 103 ISPs nationwide in the last five years,” she disclosed that “only 10 per cent have applied for renewal of the licences.”
“Despite the fact that over 70 per cent of the country’s population is active mobile subscribers, the digital divide is still very wide, especially as it regards rural dwellers,” NCC official added.
Looking at the scenario, the President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Olusola Teniola, warned that the excessive levies and taxes on ISPs remain a strong discouragements to deepen investments in the sector.
He further warned against the recent directive from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to banks on the collection of 0.005 per cent National Cybercrime Fund on all electronic transactions, saying the levy will add up to 39 levies and taxes on telecoms and allied companies.