In consolidation of the growth and gains of the telecommunications industry in the last 20 years since the liberalization of the sector, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has highlighted the next line of regulatory activities.
According to the telecom regulatory agency, the last 20 years has witnessed significant growth in subscribers, internet usage, investment, innovation, contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and multiplier effects of the growth in other sectors of the economy. Thus, going forward, the Commission will be driving new frontiers aimed at ensuring consistent growth of the nation’s digital economy sphere.
The Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta disclosed this in a paper titled: ‘Telecommunications in Nigeria: The Next Frontier’ at the 20th anniversary of the telecommunications revolution in Nigeria organised recently by Compact Communications Limited, at the Muson Centre, Lagos.
“Our next line of regulatory action is to ensure increased broadband penetration in line with Federal Government’s targets as contained in the Nigerian National Broadband Pan (NNBP), 2020-2025. This, we are sure will boost the country’s digital economy agenda,” said Danbatta, who was represented by NCC’s Director, Public Affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde .
Danbatta explained that the NNBP has a target to achieve 70 per cent broadband penetration among 90 per cent of the country’s population. The Plan also seeks to achieve broadband speeds of 15Mbp and 25Mbps in rural and urban areas respectively over the next five years.
Prof. Danbatta emphasized that a robust broadband infrastructure will play a key role in fast-tracking the effective deployment of 5G technology and facilitate availability of services associated with 5G technology.
“Already, the Commission is set to auction some spectrum slots in 3.5GHz band and we have confirmed 97 per cent readiness for 5G deployment in this regard. This is in line with the marching order given to us by Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), following approval by the Federal Executive Council to proceed on our 5G Deployment Plan. The Information Memorandum (IM) for the auction had earlier been shared with stakeholders and we are set to auction the 5G spectrum before the end of the year,” he added.
The NCC Chief Executive also said one of the initiatives being emplaced by the Commission to enhance the attainment of the next frontier for telecom development in Nigeria and the nation’s economic growth, is the ongoing review of licensing structure in the sector. This is to align telecoms licensing process with the wide range of technological advances, convergence of technologies and services shaping global telecoms space.
Danbatta said the Commission has also finalized review of its Spectrum Trading Guidelines (STG). The STG, according to the EVC, allows spectrum resource in-country to be traded on the Secondary Market through Transfer, Sharing or Leasing (TSL) once the stipulated regulatory conditions have been complied with.