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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Grant tax holidays to submarine cable providers – Nwokoro

THE Director, Regulatory Affairs, Zain Nigeria, Mr. Osondu Nwokoro, has called on the Federal Government to grant fiscal incentives by way of tax holidays to international submarine cable access providers (ISCA) to soften the impact of the financial investments on their cash flows, reports CHARLES OKOH.

Nwokoro who was speaking at the Nigeria Internet Group (NIG) organized e-Business conference in Lagos, last week, called for transparency in the process of securing investors for SAT-3 when unbundled from the Nigerian Telecommunications (NITEL) Plc.

Speaking on ‘Governance and Regulatory Imperatives for Optimal International Submarine Cable Access Services Delivery,’ Mr. Nwokoro cited for instance, the SAT-3, saying that it remain central to the provision of international submarine cable access services in the country, hence it needed to be repositioned.

“Over the past decade, the increased demand for bandwidth driven by the internet and continuous international trend of privatization of national telecommunications industries have outstripped by far the resources offered by satellite transmission of voice and data. The transport medium for wholesale international traffic has therefore progressively shifted from copper to satellite and now mainly to fibre optic cables,” he said.

He identified easy maintenance, cost effectiveness, greater bandwidth capacity and extensive geographic coverage as some inherent advantages of fibre optic cable infrastructure over copper and satellite.

On some of the endeavours facilitated by submarine cables on the part of the government, Nwokoro said it will ensure an up to date record keeping and enhanced provision of essential services such as e-health services.

For wholesale users he also said, will facilitate real time efficient and dedicated communications between sister offices in distant locations and a veritable platform for inclusive e-commerce.

For retail consumers, he said it will enable accessibility to on line education and services such as e-libraries allow easy access to a rich pool of information via databases in the world wide web (www) as well as facilitate the provision of real triple or quad play multimedia services.

He equally said exclusive access granted to NITEL, ambivalence towards commercial opportunities due to red tape in operations, high prices, operators and capacity purchasers not being regarded as partners but as subordinates are some of the anti-competitive outlooks of SAT-3 under NITEL.

Other challenges, he listed to include frequent strikes at NITEL, epileptic power supply at NITEL’s PTO rooms, fibre cuts on the access routes occasioned by poor maintenance and absence of  service-level agreement (SLA) with capacity purchasers as some other challenges facing SAT-3.

He pointed out that the desirous for alternatives, propelled users to resort to buying capacity from the Republic of Benin, a consortium member who has sublet some of its capacity, at prices about one quarter of NITEL’s and for better quality.

Nwokoro said open access is a key to the provision of competitively priced services at better service delivery thresholds.

The event tagged ‘Enabling e-business in Nigeria for accelerated economic growth’ the conference was put together by the NIG to prepare the nation for the expected explosion that will come with broadband in 2010.

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