Nigeria needs 60,000 base stations for telecoms services

Umar Danbatta, NCC Boss.

Umar Danbatta, NCC Boss.

Stakeholders lament poor access to forex

To reverse the fall in the standard of telecommunications services in Nigeria, especially voice and data, the country would need substantial investments that would guarantee having about 60, 000 Base Transceiver Stations (BTS), a Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) document has stated.

The document, presented at the USPF ‘Focused Industry Stakeholder Forum’ in Lagos, pointed out that there are currently 25, 396 towers in Nigeria and that in 2016, 85 per cent of the BTS will be owned or operated by independent tower companies.

The document titled: ‘Universal Access: The inevitable bridge for inclusive development’, presented by Jinmi Oluanuiga, a member of the National Broadband Council, at a USPF organised forum in Lagos, revealed that already, about 14, 222 of the industry towers are owned by IHS, while 1,300 belong to Helios Towers of Nigeria.

Specifically, Oluanuiga disclosed that while IHS directly owned 4000 towers; MTN, 9,151 and Etisalat, 2,136 (are under IHS control). Airtel has 4,800, which is under American Towers supervision, while Globacom controls its own BTS.

The Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, explained that poor telecommunications infrastructure has been a major challenge to rapid broadband development in the country.

According to him, the required infrastructure needed to drive fast broadband penetration is not available in the country, presenting challenges for faster broadband penetration.

Danbatta, who blamed the recent ranking of Nigeria as the 134th country out of 144 country ranked on Global Competitive Index (GCI) by the World Economic Forum, said the country dropped in the ranking as a result of its poor state of telecommunications infrastructure that could have driven development in the country.

He therefore called in the Federal Government to review its fiscal and monetary policies and allow tax waiver on the importation of some critical telecommunications infrastructure that will drive broadband penetration in the country.

The forum was organised by the USPF, an arm of NCC, to seek stakeholders’ contribution and collaboration on the best way to fund telecoms projects in the country that will lead to faster broadband penetration across the county.

Aside calling for review of the country’s fiscal and monetary policies, the stakeholders also called on USPF to undertake telecoms projects like building of Base Transceiver Stations (BTS), popularly called base stations, instead of allowing the telecoms operators to build BTS by themselves, while expanding their networks.

They explained that the direct involvement of USPF in building of BTS would facilitate faster broadband penetration in the country.
The Secretary of USPF, Ayuba Shuaibu, however explained that the law does not allow USPF to undertake any venture capital project, explaining that the law only allows the body to encourage telecoms operators to build BTS and other infrastructure for service rollout through subsidy across the country.
He urged operators to consider rolling out in the hinterland, which are yet to be served, stressing that there are incentives for such venture.



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