By ADEDEJI ADEYEMI FAKOREDE
THE Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) has expressed its commitment to ensure that infrastructure necessary to provide ubiquitous broadband services is available and accessible to all Nigerians at affordable rates.
This was made known by the Executive Vice Chairman of the commission Engr. Umar Garba Danbatta who was represented by the Director Technical Standard and Network Integrity Engr. Fidelis Onah at the Bicsi 2016 held in Lagos recently.
He said the commission would promote innovation, investment, competition and consumer empowerment in and on top of communications platforms of today and the future-maximising the power of information and communications technology to grow our economy, create jobs and enhance national competitiveness through the deployment of broadband infrastructure to facilitate roll-out broadband services that will hold out opportunities and higher network quality of service for all Nigerians.
Danbatta said the country has a robust fixed infrastructure in the international, backbone, Metro and Access layers within the country.
He said the country is connected to the world through the landing of submarine cables such as SAT 3, Mainone, Glo 1 and West Africa Cable System (WACS).
The EVC also made known that there are over 40,000 kilometres, long haul, inter-city and fibre optic infrastructure in the country.
“The commission through Wire Nigeria (WIN) and State Accelerated Broadband Initiative (SABI) has facilitated the deployment of fibre infrastructures in some parts of the country. All these deployments do not fulfill the requirements of a fully built-out, resilient national backbone infrastructure that traverse every state and local government area of the federation in which the commission is plan to address, Danbatta said.
He observed that broadband is the next frontier in the ICT industry that would help speedy transformation of the Nigerian economy.
According to him: “The broadband penetration agenda would be achieved through the national broadband plan, while the role of the NCC in the plan is to prioritise the broadband infrastructure within the cities and subsequently in the rural areas.
“Also, there is a plan to license companies with broadband infrastructure. Two zones of the countries have been licensed.
“As we speak, the process of licencing infrastructure companies to deploy broadband infrastructure within the five geopolitical zones of the country is in motion.”
Danbatta further assured that the NCC would continue to maintain its reputation as the foremost regulatory agency in Africa, maintaining that the protection of consumers’ rights would be harnessed.
He also noted that the commission will continue to drive and support high speed connectivity and infrastructure which is the bedrock of ICT growth and development to end users through the licensing of infracos on regional basis to provide fibre and wholesale transmission.
The EVC further stated that the licensing process for the phase 1 which is Lagos and the North central is almost complete and that of the other five geo political zones will commenced soonest.
“The protection and empowerment of consumers from unfair practices through availability of information and education required to make informed choices in the use of ICT services will be prioritized,” he added.
On when Internet would be made free in Nigeria, the NCC boss said: “Nowadays, people pay virtually nothing to make calls through the whatsapp application, which means that very soon, voice services would be free and emphasis are now initiated into data services.
“The telecommunication now supports voice Internet, but the capacity to continue this process is not sufficient. The 8-point agenda is to ensure at least that Internet services are affordable, available and accessible.
“Also, time will come where the access to Internet would be free, as we encourage other service providers to provide adequate infrastructure.”