By Martin Ekpeke
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has posited that national roaming and active infrastructure sharing in the Nigerian telecommunication industry must be encouraged, noting such initiatives have the capacity to boost telecom services.
The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta stated this today while delivering a welcome address at a stakeholders’ forum on national roaming and active infrastructure sharing at the Digital Bridge Institute, Lagos.
According to him, national roaming has the potential of promoting seamless communication of subscribers as they will be able to roam on the network of other service providers where their own service provider is unavailable or has limited network coverage, while there will be a noticeable reduction in network deployment costs when active infrastructure sharing is encouraged.
“National Roaming and Active Infrastructure Sharing are two of such initiatives which have been successfully utilized to achieve improved coverage, cost reduction and the efficient utilization of scarce network resources by Regulatory agencies,” Danbatta emphasized.
To ensure that these benefits are realised, Danbatta advised that pertinent issues such as Quality of Service, Mobile Number Portability, issues of fair competition, billing and reconciliation, appropriate roaming agreements, extent of regulation required and the need to continue to incentivize operators to roll out infrastructure in underpopulated areas must be considered.
Meanwhile, in an opening remark by Abubakar Yakubu, the Chairman, Industry Working Committee on national roaming and active infrastructure sharing, explained that national roaming is the ability of a mobile phone user to automatically make and receive voice calls, send and receive data, even when out of the coverage of the home network by mean of using a visited network.
Put differently, it is an agreement among operators to use each other’s networks to provide services in geographic areas where they have no coverage and such arrangements effectively multiply any one operator’s ability to cover the entire country, without actually having to deploy infrastructure everywhere.
The Nigerian Communications Commission, had in 2017 inaugurated an Industry Working Committee to work out the procedure and modalities for implementing National Roaming and Active Infrastructure Sharing guidelines.