By ADEDEJI FAKOREDE
HOUSE of Representatives has asked for a status report on the Nigerian communications satellite, popularity known as NigComSat-1, the multi-million dollar communication satellite which spanned out of control just 18 months after launch.
The satellite, which was first launched into the orbit on May 13, 2007, cost the Federal Government N34 billion and the contact was executed by the China Great Wall Industry Corporation.
It was expected to provide broadband Internet and communications for government agencies.
However, Mr. Toby Okechukwu, member from Enugu State, told the House that the satellite was de-orbited in November 2008 due to some technical faults.
He added that though the satellite was relaunched in December 2011, with a lifespan of 15 years, he alleged that NigComSat-1 was “lying idle in space.”
Okechukwu expressed disbelief that the satellite had remained idle in space at a time that Nigeria was facing multiple communications challenges, including high cost of Internet.
He called on the House to investigate the alleged inter-agency rivalry between the National Space Research and Development Agency and the Nigeria Communications Satellite Limited, said to be the reason why the satellite was idle.
Okechukwu’s motion read in part, “The House observes that despite the enormous communications potential of the NigComSat-1, coupled with its 28 active transponders and 12 redundant transponders as payloads, Nigeria’s NigComSat-1 has not been put to optimum use since 2011 when it was relaunched.”
The House said that when put to use, the satellite could conveniently support over 168 television stations “simultaneously and each television programme could be broadcast in three or four different languages concurrently.”
If put to its optimum use, “NigComSat-1 will enhance security intelligence reporting, particularly as Nigeria battles to end the problem of insurgency and terrorism in the North East amongst other benefits, “he added.
In the same vein, the House called on the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to commence an audit of the quality of service provided by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the country and also set up a framework through which internet service consumers can be compensated for poor services. The House mandated the committee on telecommunications to monitor the adherence to this resolution and report back to the House within four weeks for further legislative action.
The resolution was passed after the adoption of a motion sponsored by Hon. Busayo Oke drawing attention to the poor service delivery by the ISPs, alleging that their poor services have caused untold hardship to many Nigerian businesses who have not gotten value for their money.