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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

ICT: Experts call for converged regulation

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) experts who participated at the opening session of the WiMAX Forum 2010 in Lagos on Tuesday, lamented non-institutional convergence for the regulation of the sector.

ITRealms Online recalls that currently, the Nigerian Communications Commission regulates telecom, the National Broadcasting Commission, while the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) applications, even as they are scattered in the Ministry of Information and Communications, as well as Ministry of Science and Technology.

Some of those who spoke at the event included former Executive Director, MultiLinks Telkom, Chief Ezekiel Fatoye, president of the Nigeria Internet Group (NIG), Mr. Lanre Ajayi and President, Digital Bridge Institute, Prof. Raymond Akwule among others.

In his submission, Chief Fatoye noted that it is worrisome for the various frequencies needed for the deployment of WiMAX in the country to be scattered across regulatory agencies.

For instance, he noted that 2.3 Gega Hertz is supposedly in the position of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), while the 2.5 GHz is in the custody of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), saying that this non-harmonisation though there is a National Frequency Management board has brought confusion into the sector due visibility of convergence.

He, therefore, urged that convergence should be accelerated to clear this confusion.
For Mr. Ajayi, as far as he is concerned, the 2.3GHz is being withheld by a court since the Ministry of Information and Communications is still contesting a recent court ruling on the award of the license to some four industry players by NCC.

Decrying that the 2.5GHz is with NBC, Ajayi pointed out that 3.5 GHz which should have been an alternative is resident at NigComSAT and in fact, suggested that
Professor Raymond Akwule, who dwelt on “Regulatory and Policy Imperatives of Emerging Last Mile Technologies in the Era of Convergence: WiMax and NGNs” pointed out that following the convergence of network and services,” it is important to ensure that the market is open for different technologies to compete on equal terms.”

As said by him, the most important in a Nigerian context is convergence of the regulatory institutions and canvassed that policy makers should aim to create a favourable environment for investment and innovation as well as ensuring a predictable legal and regulatory environment for market participants.

Consider a series of possible barriers to competition and investment that may arise following the deployment of WiMax or NGNs.

He also called for the review of the universal service obligations and mechanisms to achieve them in the context of convergence.

“Ensure that contributions to universal service funds respect the trend towards convergence of network and services, and review how universal service is funded,” he said.

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