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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Stakeholders focus on post-ULR

Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and foremost continental Information and Communications Technology (ICT) magazine, IT & Telecom Digest, have concluded plans to host a one-day stakeholders forum on post-Unified Licensing Regime (ULR).

The forum, which is the second in the series, would focus on the eight Unified Licensed Operators (ULO), and offers them an avenue to present their scorecards to the nation’s ICT sector.

It would be recalled that last year, NCC granted eight Unified Access Licenses to Multi-Links Telecommunications Limited, Prest Cable & Satellite TV Systems Limited, Intercellular Nigeria PLC and Starcomms Limited, as the first set, while the second batch included VGC Communications Limited, MTN Nigeria, Dan Jay Telecoms Limited and Bourdex Telecoms and yet another early this year to Mudabala Development Company (MDC) of Kuwait.

However, MTN has since December 2006 acquired VGCC Ltd, just as national operators like the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited and Globacom also have bouquets of licences wrapped up in their licences.

The organisers said that the licensees would be using the platform to tell the world what challenges they have come up against since the license came on stream, while trying to apply the various platforms afforded them by the new regime in addition to their future plans.

Chief host of the event and Editor-in-Chief of IT & Telecom Digest, Mr. Mkpe Abang, informed that the theme of the forum is “Unified Licensing Regime – New Phase of Nigeria’s Telecom Revolution: the prospects, possibilities and realities.”

He also said that the forum, scheduled to hold next month in Lagos, would enable winners of the all-purpose licensees to air their views on how far they have gone in making use of the new licence issued.

“While the regulator will use the forum to gauge the impact the operators have had so far on the country with the coming of the Unified licensing regime,” he said.

As said by him, the occasion would provide a platform to focus on new technologies and how Nigerian telcos and operators alike could take adequate advantage thereof.

Mr. Abang added that with the speakers drawn from the government and private sector, the academia and core ICT environment, the one-day event would explore other opportunities available to the several companies that either by choice or by design, did not go for the unified licence.

Noteworthy is that in February 2001, the NCC opened the nation’s telecom space by granting licences to three companies; MTN, MTel and Econet now Celtel following an auction held in January of the same year. And as the exclusivity elapsed, NCC commenced the Unified Licensing Regime (ULR).

Head, public affairs, at NCC, Mr. Dave Imoko said the commission intends to use the platform offered by the stakeholders forum to take stock of how winners of the Unified Access Service Licences have faired, what challenges they still have to surmount and chart the way forward.

He pointed out that ULR opened up the sector to more possibilities and more choices for both operators and consumers.

“So, with this forum we will also be looking at new trends in the sector particularly new technologies and how Nigerian operators can take advantage of them for the benefit of the consumers, because rather than wait, we must be at the forefront of technological breakthroughs,” he said.

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