Govt to license high capacity frequency spectrum for broadband services

Broadband-Internet-Data-CapsTHE Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday said it has concluded arrangements to open and license high capacity frequency spectrum bands for backhaul and last mile services in the country as part of efforts to achieve the national broadband plan.

Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Communications Commission, Dr. Eugene Juwah who disclosed this at the Commonwealth Broadband forum yesterday in Abuja, said that NCC is also planning to drive metropolitan fibre deployment by licensing five (5) additional Infracos and also increase access capacity through the auction of available slots in the 700MHz and 2.6GHz spectrum bands.

He noted that in order to overcome the current gaps in Nigeria’s broadband infrastructure, and effectively manage the challenges in broadband infrastructure deployment and operations, as well as enable the realisation of the national broadband target of 2018, adequate lessons learnt from the past and present will be leveraged upon to ensure the delivery of an optimal broadband infrastructure frame-work and network.

Represented by Executive Commissioner (Stakeholders Management) of the NCC, Dr. Okechukwu Itanyi, Juwah stated that the commission would support small and medium Internet Service Providers (ISPs) via the Interconnect of Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) across the country, drive affordability of transmission capacity via institution of a cost-based pricing model and price caps for leased transmission capacity and optimise capacity utilisation by instituting active infrastructure sharing.

He said that the catalytic role and contribution of broadband services to an economy has positive impact on education delivery, health care provision, energy management, security, and information dissemination.

According to him, the lack of a robust fixed network infrastructure and the need to rapidly develop the infrastructure to provide universal broadband services required a co-ordinated national approach, adding that this led to the crafting of a national broadband plan covering the period 2013 to 2018.

He said: “The policy and regulatory strategies for accelerated broadband infrastructure development was thus articulated taking due cognisance of the unique conditions prevailing in the country. The supply side of the Nigeria National Broadband plan aims to address the broadband infrastructure deficit in towns and cities across the country. Some of the objectives include to achieve a 30 per cent broadband penetration rate by 2018 from 6.1 per cent in 2012, to have a co-ordinated strategy towards the provision of a broadband infrastructure ecosystem in the country, among others.

Juwah further noted that the commission in a bid to facilitate the provision of a resilient broadband infrastructure across the country, have set target to achieve the following, among others, during the five-year broadband implementation plan:
• License seven (7) Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) to roll-out metropolitan fibre across the country;
• Auction available slots in the 2.3GHz, 6GHz and 700MHz band for wireless broadband access;
• Implement cost-based pricing model and price caps for leased transmission capacity to drive affordability;
• Implement cost-based pricing model and price caps for leased transmission capacity to drive affordability;
• Implement open non-discriminatory access to broadband infrastructure for all service providers;
• Open new high capacity spectrum bands for licensing (e.g. 70/80GHz);
• Interconnect all Internet Exchange Points in Nigeria with fibre optic cable transmission;
• Provide incentives to drive the rollout of broadband infrastructure; and
• Increase wireless broadband access across the country.

Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Communication Technology, Dr. Tunji Olaopa, has stressed the need to ensure that all Commonwealth member-states have a workable broad-band strategies, policies and frame-work in place, adding that Nigeria has developed a broadband roadmap for the nation and has commenced the implementation of the first phase of ubiquitous fixed broadband infrastructure.

He said the theme of the forum; Broadband for All: from Access to Inclusion, is well thought of considering the fact that broadband is the catalyst for achieving a knowledge-based economy the global community is pursuing.

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