June 28, 2018

NCC approves new palliatives for telecom operators

•Prof Umar Garba Danbatta

… Justifies withdrawal of 36,000,000 dormant lines

•Prof Umar Garba Danbatta

By Emmanuel Elebeke

The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC says new palliatives have been approved to accommodate all telecom operators.

The Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta disclosed this on Thursday at the 84th edition of Telecom Consumer Parliament, TCP held at NAF Conference Centre, Abuja.

The EVC said the new palliatives are meant to provide level playing field, especially for the smaller operators in the industry and to fast-track the ongoing efforts to close the existing 195 access gaps across the country.

He said the palliatives range from reduction from the amount they pay for spectrum and others which would be made available as soon as the process is completed.

‘‘These palliatives range from reduction from the amount they pay for spectrum and others that will be made available as soon as the memo requesting the approval is received.

‘‘I granted the approval yesterday and the details will be made available. I went through the memo and I know there are palliatives.

‘‘There are palliatives for spectrum and there is reduction, there is also a palliative for payment itself. We are introducing palliatives by way of installment payments, spreading the payment rather than compelling operators to make full payment for spectrum acquisition. Information on the new palliatives will be provided in due course,’’ he stated.

On Rural Telephony project, the NCC boss noted that the Commission is in partnership with relevant stakeholders in deployment of base transceiver stations in the needy areas in order to close the existing access gaps.

‘‘The NCC in partnership with stakeholders deployed base transceiver stations in those areas do not have access to bridge access gaps. We are doing this at the rate of about 10 per annum and going by the number of access gaps, it is going to take the NCC close to 20 years to close all access gaps.

‘‘The rural population does not have the time to wait, they are not going to be patient for 20 years without access to telecommunication services. Therefore, there is need to find ingenious ways to close these gaps within sorter period of time and technology fortunately for us presents itself amenable to solving this problem in shorter time.

‘‘There is a Rural Technology Solution which we have deployed through a pilot scheme in about three locations in the country and we are very happy about the outcome of this pilot deployment.

‘‘We are in partnership with those in possession of these technology here in Nigeria to reciprocate the deployment beyond the pilot, so that we can close 20 of those access gaps and then see what happens. But by my estimation, we can through rural technology solution bridge the gaps in about 3-4 years.

‘‘When you want to bridge gaps, you have to have spectrum and of course the spectrum belong to operators. We are leveraging this important resource to facilitating partnership between the owners of the solution with the operators and NCC is right there ensuing that the partnership becomes operative.

‘‘I am happy to report that most of the operators are disposed this as well as the owners of the technology solutions,’’ Danbatta said.

On the withdrawal of 36 million dormant line, the EVC explained that the intention was to ensure that all resources at NCC’s disposal, number resources, spectrum resources were put into good use and benefit of the country.

According to him, the Commission is not in the habit of allowing resources to waste , insisting that the affected line were not active as at the time of the withdrawal but were only those which operators had allowed to be dormant for over the stipulated period of time.

‘‘Those are lines that are redundant. We always give statistics about active lines. We have noticed that the teledensity is growing steadily, growing for 6-7 months and has exceeded 150million mark now.

‘‘It is expected of NCC that resources that are not being put into use are withdrawn so that this can in turn be a sign to all operators so that they can put them in good use and activate them.

‘‘These are redundant lines and when they are redundant, it means they are not in use. We do not have time to allow resources to waste. The intention is to ensure that all resources at our disposal, number resources, spectrum resources are put into god use and benefit of this country,’’ he further explained.

Earlier in his welcome address, the Deputy Director, Consumer Affairs Bureau, Alh. Ismail Adedigba, said NCC prides itself as a responsible regulator with a mandate to ensure consistent improvement of quality of service by the service providers, hence the need for the TCP aimed at bringing stakeholders face to face to address every issue that bothers consumers in the industry.
‘‘As a regulator, one of our mandates is to ensure consistent implementation of quality of service. We realized that one of the means to engage stakeholders is TCP for face to face engagement,’’ he said.