By Martin Ekpeke
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) may succumb to the demands of telecom operators in Nigeria, requesting for additional spectrum to ease the congestion caused as a result of remote working by many Nigerian companies and lockdown in states with high incidents of COVID-19.
Two major telecom advocacy groups in Nigeria; the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) and the Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) had requested from the telecom regulator some palliatives, which they believe will ensure the smooth delivery of communication services in the country.
Some of the palliatives include allocation of additional spectrum, spectrum sharing, right of passage and relaxation of quality of service metrics. These palliatives, according to ALTON and ATCON will help to keep up with the rise in voice and data traffic that has led to congestion on all the networks.
“There is congestion on all the networks. Everyone is at home; so the traffic is high. We have asked for some palliatives from the Nigerian Communications Commission and we are hoping something will be done. “We want the sharing of spectrum and relaxation of quality of service and Know Your Customer. Porting has been suspended because no operators can cope with porting right now,” Head of Operations at ALTON, Mr. Gbolahan Awonuga told the Punch Newspaper.
But responding to ITPulse’s inquiries on this, the Director of Public Affairs at the Nigerian Communications Commission, Dr. Henry Nkemadu said though no decision has been taken, the request by the telecom operators to have additional spectrum is under consideration, but subject to federal government approval, stressing that spectrum is a national scarce resource.
“On the issue of giving an additional spectrum to the Operators, this is under consideration because this is a national resource and when available, Federal Government’s approval must be obtained before any action can be taken,” he told ITPulse via Whatsapp chat.
On the issue of sharing spectrum by the Operators, Dr. Nkemadu disclosed that NCC, as part of its regulatory effort to ensure an effective and efficient telecom industry, has developed guidelines for Spectrum Trading and it is available on the Commission website www.ncc.gov.ng.
He also explained that on the issue of palliatives to the Operators which they requested, the Commission is still considering possible areas that scarce available resources can be deployed, but no decision yet.
The NCC spokesman also disclosed that there has been any relaxation of the KPIs for quality of service measurements as the Operators are meeting the KPIs for QoS even in this Covid-19 period.
A report had quoted the President, Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Mr. Olusola Teniola, saying that telecom operators were under immense pressure to reduce downtime on their networks.
Teniola attributed the pressure to traffic coming from homes due to the stay-at-home directive of the federal government as a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic, which is presently ravaging the world.
While appealing to the government to provide a temporary spectrum to operators for a period of three months, Teniola noted that will allow the operators to configure their base stations and equipment to take onboard the additional capacity.
“We want the government to seriously consider offering all operators who need additional spectrum to be given temporary spectrum for three months,” he requested.