" ITREALMS: ALTON, ATCON cry out to FG: Address our challenges now – ITREALMS

Thursday, April 25, 2024

ALTON, ATCON cry out to FG: Address our challenges now – ITREALMS

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The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) and Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), have cried out to the Federal Government (FG) to quickly address their challenges before it gets out of hand completely, reports ITREALMS.
ALTON, ATCON cry out to FG: Address our challenges now – ITREALMS
ALTON and ATCON represent the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and telecommunications companies in Nigeria, as they called upon the government to take decisive action in addressing the numerous challenges confronting the telecommunications industry.

A joint statement available to ITREALMS endorsed by the ALTON chairman, Engr. Gbenga Adebayo and ATCON president, Engr. Tony Izuagbe Emoekpere, they underscored the urgent need for collaborative efforts between the public and private sectors to overcome obstacles hindering the sector's growth and development.

They outlined some of these challenges to include but not limited to infrastructure deficits, cost-reflective tariff of services, protection of assets and network infrastructure, as well as the regulatory independence, among others.

On infrastructure deficits the two associations noted that their members still lack access to essential telecommunication services due to a myriad of challenges, including multiple taxation and regulations and prohibitive Right of Way (RoW) charges, inadequate electric power supply and vandalism of telecommunications infrastructure.

They pointed out that on ‘Protection of Assets and Network Infrastructure’ it has become imperative to advocate for legislation that designates telecommunications infrastructure as Critical National Infrastructure (CNI), expressing deep concern over the escalating security threats facing telecommunications infrastructure in Nigeria.

“Telecommunications infrastructure undisputedly plays a pivotal role in Nigeria's national security and socioeconomic growth, especially as the country currently contends with multiple security challenges that require urgent and immediate actions in response to these threats. Attacks on cell towers, fibre optic cables, and other critical assets disrupt telecommunications services and result in significant financial losses for operators,” they declared.

Urging the federal government to prioritize the security of telecommunications infrastructure and collaborate with law enforcement agencies to enhance protective measures and combat vandalism and sabotage effectively.

On the cost-reflective tariff of services, ALTON and ATCON reiterated that telecommunications infrastructure development requires substantial investments in network expansion, maintenance, and technology upgrades. Despite the adverse economic headwinds, the telecommunications industry remains the only industry yet to review its general service pricing framework upward in the last 11 years, primarily due to regulatory constraints.

“For a fully liberalized and deregulated sector, the current price control mechanism, which is not aligned with economic realities, threatens the industry's sustainability and can erode investors’ confidence. ATCON and ALTON call upon the government to facilitate a constructive dialogue with industry stakeholders to address pricing challenges and establish a framework that balances consumers' affordability with operators' financial viability,” they demanded.

For the regulatory independence, ALTON and ATCON advocated for the sustenance of a culture of independence in the regulatory landscape to safeguard against undue influence and unwholesome incursion into the Nigerian Communications Commission’s (NCC) domain, which will inspire trust in the telecommunications sector and encourage investment.

Regulatory neutrality and independence, the said, are crucial to ensuring a thriving telecommunications sector. Statutory provisions lend credence to this notion, as a lack of an impartial regulator will lead to a failure to maintain public confidence in the objectivity and independence of its decisions.

The two industry associations, therefore, reaffirmed its commitment to working collaboratively with the government to address the challenges facing the telecommunications industry in Nigeria.

By fostering a conducive regulatory environment, prioritizing infrastructure development, enhancing security measures, and facilitating pricing adjustments, the government can unlock the full potential of Nigeria's telecommunications sector, driving economic growth and societal development.

Remmy Nweke/DoP

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