Monday, October 31, 2011

NCC prepares grounds for broadband plans


The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is preparing grounds for a solid broadband plans for the country, insisting that Africa needs a unified broadband strategy.

The Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Dr. Eugene Juwah made this revelation at the recently ended West African ICT Congress in Lagos and represented by the Director, Public Affairs, Mr. Tony Ojobo.

The Commission, he said, has commenced preliminary studies and appraisals that would usher NCC on solid ground for full implementation of a broadband marshal plan for Nigeria.

“What we would stress today is the desire for the industry, especially the policy makers, investors, service providers, vendors and policy makers to begin to examine how these would affect the future of our telecommunications environment, and prepare themselves for the roles they will need to play for us to realize a collective success,” he said.

The success being envisaged by NCC in the sector, he said, is not such that only one institution would be expected to deliver.

“When we put broadband in the perspective of cross border implementation, it calls for harmonization of policies across the states or nations involved at regional or continental levels,” he said.

Therefore, he said, Africa and Nigeria need to evolve a uniform inter-regional policy framework such that when broadband is fully implemented in any of the nations, the benefits could easily spread to sister nations in the continent.

“A careful appraisal of the growth of broadband in developed countries can be traced to a semblance of policies accentuated by uniform level of development in terms of telecommunications and ICT infrastructures,” he noted.

Lamenting that the same could not be said of Africa where huge telephone traffic are not exchanged between neighbouring countries on the continent, when compared with the traffic that such countries exchange with countries in Europe, America, Asia and the Middle east countries.

“Most African countries are yet to be directly interconnected, which is the reason why it costs higher to make calls across the continent than it is to make calls to and from outside the continent,” he said, stressing that as Africans must collectively pursue a deliberate policy of liberalization that will attract service providers to go beyond their immediate environments and also allow interconnection within and among African countries.

Nigeria, he cited as an instance, has witnessed impressive investments in the area of submarine optics fibre cable along the coastlines, yet, there are about four major cables currently.

Ordinarily, Juwah pointed out that if Nigeria taps into the full potentials of these cables, with its direct connection to the international super-highway, the country would have achieved a lot in broadband penetration.

Decrying the fact that these cables have only reached the coastlines, while majority of the geographical land mass are yet to be connected because they are mostly landlocked, Juwah urged investors to take advantage of this by going extra mile to ensure that the rest of the countries’ are connected.

“It could be that such investors may need to be incentivized, but in what ways? This is where we hope the experts and stakeholders would come up with the appropriate recommendations that will guide regulatory actions and policies,” he said.

Juwah emphasized that service providers in Africa appear to have backed down from an earlier pursuit of deploying to as many African countries as possible.

Remmy Nweke:

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