NCC eyes five new InfraCos; presses on with bill to protect telecom infrastructures

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By Oluwatobi Opusunju

Worried that continuous vandalisation of telecoms infrastructure is slowing the pace of growth in the sector and contributing to poor quality of service (QoS) across the country, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has reiterated that it will continue to engage the National Assembly and other stakeholder institutions to ensure the Bill on the Protection of Critical National Infrastructure is passed into law.

Also, the NCC has instituted processes for the licensing of additional five Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) to strengthen the deployed wireless technology resources in the telecom sector. The five would join the just the two Infracos that were licensed over two years ago.

These were made known by the NCC’s Director of Public Affairs, Mr. Tony Ojobo while speaking at the just ended Digital PayExpo held at the Eko Hotel & Suites even as he told participants that the commission will continue to engage the Senate in talks to ensure the bill protecting Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) and prospective telecoms investors is passed into law as is the case in developed economies such as the USA.

“NCC will continue to liaise with the National Assembly and other relevant institutions of government to ensure that the Bill on the Protection of Critical National Infrastructure is passed speedily to check the recurring vandalism and theft of telecom infrastructure and equipment because of the attendant disruptions the damage and theft of equipment impose on the quality of service,” said Ojobo.

Billions are routinely lost to telecom vandals by operators who have asked that such infrastructures be considered of national strategic importance to guaranty they get premium security focus from the country’s security personnel.  Vandalisation of telecoms infrastructure has often led to disruption of network services impacting negatively on quality of service (QoS) delivery across the country.

About 2% to 3% of Nigeria’s Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) get shut down at each point in time due to acts of vandalism. The losses are put at between $80m to $100m in a country with a telecoms market valued at over $38 billion.

The sector is blighted by reckless and criminal tendencies that include: man-made national disasters, criminal vandalism of infrastructure, theft and digging up of cables for sale in the black market or for other purposes, destruction of telecom facilities due to road construction, community interference and oversight functions from other governmental agencies.

All these have affected ability of operators to meet their service obligations, said Ojobo while stating that the bill when passed into law would ensure that telecoms infrastructures all around the country are protected and identified as important national assets.

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