Telcos seek free movement during lockdown to maintain infrastructure

By Adeyemi Adepetun |   26 March 2020   |   3:55 am  


as ITU assures of stable network

Telecoms operators have asked the Federal and state governments for right of passage in the event of foreseeable lock down of the country.

Under the aegis of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), the operators said the request became necessary because of the essential nature of telecommunications infrastructure in managing the entire situation and the need for maintenance and repairs that may arise during the possible lockdown.

According to the Executive Secretary, ATCON, Ajibola Olude, the National Executive Council of the association has requested that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) initiated the process of national right of passage for all technical staff of telecommunications companies in the event of foreseeable lock down of the country.

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The operators, who said they counted on NCC to expedite action in this regard, also urged all members and staff of telecoms companies to comply with all the guidelines stipulated by the Federal Ministry of Health and all relevant authorities at state levels.

Meanwhile, in a related development, the United Nations arm in charge of global communications, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), has launched a platform to help protect telecommunication networks during the COVID-19 crisis.

ITU Secretary-General, Houlin Zhao, said it has instructed his team to leverage without any delay the union’s existing regulatory and policy-maker platform to help countries and industry cope with the increasing stress being put on global networks.

“At stake is our ability, as one human family, to give health workers everywhere the tools they need to carry out their duties, to allow all those that can to work from home, to trade online, to ensure that hundreds of millions of children and young people keep up with their studies, and to keep in touch with loved ones, wherever they are,” he stated.

Zhao explained that the platform launched, aimed to assist national policy-makers, regulators and industry stakeholders to ensure that networks are kept resilient and telecommunication services are available to all to the maximum extent possible by sharing best practices and initiatives put in place during the COVID-19 crisis.

The ITU Secretary-General said it will collect relevant and trustworthy information and expertise on actions that telecommunication policy-makers, regulators and others in the regulatory community can use to ensure that their telecommunication networks and services serve the needs of their country.

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He explained that the new ITU platform will provide countries struggling to find appropriate solutions to ensure their networks’ resiliency with relevant and trustworthy information and expertise on how to cope with the stresses faced by their infrastructure. “And because time is of the essence, it will give those countries that still have time to prepare an opportunity to learn from what is being done elsewhere – from emergency spectrum reassignments to guidelines for consumers on responsible use. Serving initially as an informative tool, the Global Network Resiliency Platform will soon be expanded to provide an interactive and engaging platform for continuous sharing throughout this crisis and beyond,” he stated.

While calling for solidarity against the current global crisis, Zhao urged the policy makers not to forget all those around the world who still lack access to the Internet.

He reminded that as the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies, ITU has long advocated for universal, reliable and affordable connectivity, and “we will continue to push on all these fronts until everyone is connected.

“I call on all ITU members, from the public and private sector alike, to come together to build the best platform we can so that information and communication technology can help defeat COVID-19 and make us safer, stronger and more connected.”

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