- Small Telecom Operators to Enjoy Special Incentives, Says NCC
Small operators in the Nigerian telecommunications industry are to enjoy special incentives going by new packages just approved by the Federal Government.
The Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof Umar Danbatta, disclosed this in an interview with journalists at the 84th edition of the Telecom Consumer Parliament in Abuja on Thursday.
He also stated that 35 million people living in 195 communities where there were gaps in coverage lacked access to telecommunications services.
Although Danbatta could not give details of the incentives, which the NCC had sought and secured approval from the Federal Government, he noted that among them was the opportunity for small operators to buy spectrum at prices cheaper than what bigger operators pay.
He said, “These palliatives (incentives) include reduction in the amounts they pay for spectrum. There are palliatives for spectrum and there is also a palliative for payment itself. We are introducing palliatives by way of payment in instalments.
“Information on the new palliatives will be provided in due course.”
Danbatta stated that the NCC had been addressing gaps in telecommunications coverage by giving operators subsidies to set up base stations.
However, he stated that the process had been slow, thereby prompting the regulatory agency to seek rural technology solution, which it had already deployed in three locations as pilot projects.
He said, “The NCC, in partnership with stakeholders, deployed base transceiver stations in those areas that do not have access to bridge access gaps. We are doing this at the rate of about 10 per annum and going by the number of access gaps, it is going to take the NCC close to 20 years to close all access gaps.
“The rural population does not have the time to wait. They are not going to be patient for 20 years without access to telecommunications services. Therefore, there is a need for us to find ingenious ways to close these gaps within the shortest period of time and technology, fortunately for us, presents itself to solve this problem in a shorter time.
“There is a rural technology solution, which we have deployed through a pilot scheme in about three locations in the country, and we are very happy about the outcome of the pilot deployment.”
Danbatta added, “In partnership with those in possession of the technology, we plan to replicate the deployment beyond the pilot so that we can close the access gaps. By my estimation, we can through rural technology solution bridge the gaps in about three to four years.
“When you want to bridge gaps, you have to have spectrum; and of course, the spectrum belongs to the operators. We are leveraging this important resource to facilitate partnership between the owners of the solution with the operators, and the NCC is right there ensuring that the partnership becomes operative.”
Also speaking at the event, the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholders Management, NCC, Mr Sunday Dare, said the regulatory agency had activated many channels to end the menace of international call masking.
He stated that subscribers were now advised to forward any local number through which international calls were being transmitted to them.