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NCC records major breakthrough with Spectrum Trading as Intercellular transfers spectrum worth N8.9bn to Airtel

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EVC of NCC, Prof. Danbatta

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has initiated work round the clock, initiating a number of programmes to optimise the usage and benefit of spectrum by network operators for the utmost satisfaction of the consumers.

Such programmes like spectrum trading, has helped to facilitate the transfer of the spectrum licence of 2X 10MHz in the 900MHz E-GSM Spectrum band from Intercellular Nigeria to Airtel networks Limited amounted to the sum of N8.9 billion.

The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, disclosed this today, Thursday, October 15, 2020, while delivering a keynote address at the National Dialogue on Telecoms & ICT Sector in Nigeria, organized by the Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON).

Danbatta told industry stakeholders at the event that infrastructure sharing, satellite infrastructure and wireless infrastructure have been put in place to drive socio-economic development.

Speaking on the topic: ‘Nigeria’s Telecommunications Sector: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow’, the EVC said that despite the covid-19 pandemic, the sector has shown signs of resilience, contributing about 14.30 per cent of the total ICT’s contribution in the second quarter, which the National Bureau of Statistics (NBC) recorded at N2.3 trillion.

In his words, “To optimise the usage and benefit of spectrum, a number of initiatives such as spectrum trading, infrastructure sharing, satellite infrastructure and wireless infrastructure have been put in place to drive socio-economic development. For instance, the transfer of the spectrum licence of 2X 10MHz in the 900MHz E-GSM Spectrum band from Intercellular Nigeria to Airtel networks Limited amounted to the sum of N8.9 billion. The amount generated through that singular initiative has brought significant revenue to Government.

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“The Commission has also remitted N362.34 billion from 2015 to date to the Federal Government Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) through spectrum fees and operating surplus, which has helped to boost the revenue-generation drive of the current administration.

He said that the last five years, under his watch as the country’s chief telecoms regulator, have been very exciting as the task of leading the regulation of a dynamic sector such as the Nigerian telecommunications industry presents enormous opportunities and challenges.

He, however, said that with the Strategic Vision Plan (SVP) of the Commission, they have achieved key targets.

“In 2015, broadband penetration in Nigeria was less than 6 per cent. It would be recalled that the National Broadband Plan (2013-2018) set a target of 30% broadband penetration by end of 2018, but this was slightly surpassed. As of August, 2020, we have increased broadband penetration to an impressive 43.30%.

“This represents 82,653,247 broadband subscriptions. This achievement is as a result of key policy initiatives to improve broadband penetration embarked upon by the Commission. These include increasing the number of licensed Infrastructure Companies (InfraCo) to six across the geo-political zones, spectrum refarming, spectrum re-planning, spectrum auctions, and administrative spectrum assignments, among others.

“The Commission is presently in the process of finalising the six Infraco’s counterpart funding agreement to ensure the full rollout of broadband infrastructure on an Open Access Model (OAM) and this will ensure there is Point of Access in each of the 774 local governments in the country.

“Aside increase in broadband penetration, active voice subscriptions have also increased to 203,162,561 as at August 2020. Teledensity has also risen to 106.62% while the percentage contribution to GDP in Q2 2020 was 14.2%.

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“The NCC is working with the Nigeria Industrial Policy and Competiveness Advisory Council (Critical Infrastructure Sub Committee) under the auspices of the Vice President, Yemi Osibanjo GCON, on various initiatives towards improving broadband penetration.

“To underscore the importance of the sector to the economy, in June 2020, the President, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, designated telecoms facilities as Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) through the intervention of the Hon. Minister of Communications and Digital Economy. It is our hope that this policy stance of the Federal Government will result in a more stable security framework for telecommunications infrastructure in the country”, the EVC said.

He further said that the Commission has given priority to Quality of Service (QoS) and observed that two prominent factors, identified as “technical” and “non-technical” were impacting its delivery.

“We took immediate steps to address the issues by constituting an Industry Working Group (IWG) on QoS, Short codes and Multiple Taxation; Deployment of QoS and Spectrum Tools, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Colocation Service Providers.

“In 2018, the adoption of 3G and 4G KPIs was formalised, as well as that of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Collocation Service Providers (CSP) and their monitoring has since fully commenced. These regulatory initiatives have put operators on their toes to improve quality of service delivery to consumers”, Danbatta explained.

He assured industry players of NCC’s support, especially in driving the growth of indigenous companies while providing necessary supports to foreign investors.

The National Dialogue on Telecoms & ICT Sector in Nigeria by the Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) attracted participants from the Federal and State Governments in Nigeria, as well as private sector players.

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