Better Telecoms Services Coming as Broadband Council Launches Campaign
The Broadband Council has launched an awareness campaign that will communicate the transformational benefits of broadband to all Nigerians to encourage its use and adoption. The Campaign tagged ‘’Connected Nigeria, Connected Nigerians’’ will raise awareness of the transformational benefits of Broadband and will disseminate information on the benefits of broadband including what can be gained by adopting broadband access. It will also share information on how broadband is creating economic and social value for Nigerians.
The Broadband Council which had its third meeting on the 17th of February, 2014 reviewed work done so far on the implementation of the Broadband Plan. It discussed the progress made with getting states to reduce or remove Right of Way, RoW, charges and other related fees to enable operators have unencumbered means of laying fibre optic cables, which is critical for infrastructure development and quality of service. A full progress report is due to follow.
The Chairman of the Council and Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs Omobola Johnson, talked about the drive to engage governors and relevant authorities at the state and federal level to address the issue of multiple taxation. Already states like Lagos State have signed on with other states expected to follow in the coming months. The aim is to ensure that measures are adopted to remove arbitrary charges and eradicate multiple taxation necessary for effective service delivery across the nation. The successful meeting with the Lagos State government resulted in a landmark agreement to reduce the cost of RoW from N3000 to N500 per meter, a significant reduction of 85%.
A collaborative agreement between the Ministries of Communication Technology (including the NCC) and Environment (which includes NESREA), is also now in place. An MOU that outlines the roles and responsibilities of each department with respect to base station deployment and approvals of Environmental Impact Assessments necessary for effective service delivery in the telecoms sector is now operational. And going forward, the Council, the Ministry and its Departments and Agencies are keen to see an increase in the rollout of 3G-enabled base stations that comply with state and federal standards. In addition, the timeline for the processing of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports will no longer exceed 90 days, another obstacle often highlighted by operators.
As part of its plans to release more spectrum, the NCC is making progress with regards to the planned 2.3GHz auction, and the release of complementary Infraco licenses to follow soon after. The first draft of the Critical National Infrastructure Bill has also been submitted for comments. And a Gap Analysis of the coverage of the country has been completed by the USPF. The purpose of the access gap study by USPF is to ascertain/determine priority for unserved and underserved areas and direct appropriate investments to these areas. This will inform plans for addressing under-served and unserved areas across the country.
These achievements are in line with the President Goodluck Jonathan’s goal of seeing broadband penetration increase five-fold by 2017, and the action items stipulated in the Broadband plan. The Broadband Council was inaugurated on the 16th of July, 2013 and is made up of 19 members chaired by the Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs Omobola Johnson. The Council is charged with the responsibility of working on implementation modalities for the approved Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2013 – 2018.