By Etuka Sunday
The Executive Vice-Chairman (EVC), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, yesterday said that power was the biggest challenge facing the telecommunications operations in the country.
Danbatta stated this during an oversight and fact finding visit by the Senate Committee on Communications, held at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja.
He said, the cost of providing power, especially in the base stations, was high adding that the Commission was working hard to solve the challenge by recommending the use of sustainable energy sources to the telecommunications operators.
On the issue of security, theft of equipment, transmission cable cuts, the EVC said that there were delays in securing approvals for sites at the state level for new base stations as they were harassed by some Agencies.
According to him, the unfair taxes and billing levied on Telcos constitutes a drawback to infrastructure deployment in the telecoms sector.
“Engagements are ongoing with different tiers of government and government agencies at Federal, State and Local Government levels,” he stated.
He urged the National Assembly delegation to wade into ensuring that there was money mobile industry that was telco driven.
Danbatta said that the commission had recorded a lot of achievements in spite of the odds.
He mentioned some as the development of spectrum trading guidelines to enable operators in possession of un-utilised or under-utilised frequency spectrum to trade such limited assets in the secondary market place.
On broadband penetration, he said that the Commission had implemented the Open Access Model for infrastructure development through the competitively selected Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) called InfraCo project.
He said that as at 2017, the commission had activated the 2442 DO-NOT-DISTURB code initiative with fewer than 500 subscribers but presently has more than 30 million subscribers and counting.
“The commission’s second layer complaint toll-free line, 622, has also become a beehive of activities.
“The InfraCo will provide, at a minimum, broadband fibre and connectivity to every LGA of the federation, totalling 774 points of Access (PoAs) with minimum speed of 10 Gbps, which will translate to at least, 28,902Km of fibre deployment in the next four years.
“A new Department of Research and Development was created to improve the synergy between the Commission and the Academia in the area of research and development with the active collaboration of the industry.
“This is with the aim to boost telecommunications related researches in the country,” he said.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Communications, Mrs Oluremi Tinubu, commended the NCC for the platinum category award that was recently awarded to the commission for exceptional organisation performance.
Tinubu expressed optimism that the telecommunications industry would see better days ahead, adding that so far she had experienced good service relationships with service providers.
“We will come again and that will be going to visit most of your sites and see how far you have gone with the 2020 budget and to also prepare us for 2021.
“We are also looking forward to the stakeholders’ conference that we want to have with the telecoms industries. I think it will be very good for us, which we have discussed,” she said.