The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has assured Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the country of sustainable policies and regulation that will help them remain in business and become more competitive.
Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, gave the assurance during the Telecom Sector Sustainability Forum (TSSF), organised by Business Remarks in Lagos recently, with the theme: ‘Examining the Nigerian Internet Service Providers (ISPs) Viability in a Digitised Environment.’
The NCC boss stated that the National Policy on Digitisation as well as the National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 can only be facilitated through Internet Service Provision and its implementation can make Nigeria compete favorably in the world economy.
He stated further that in other to achieve the National Policy on Digitisation as well as the National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 mandate, the Nigerian Communications Commission as at March 2022 has licensed 756 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) out of which 188 ISPs are active, while the total subscriber for data services in Nigeria as at February 2022 stood at 144, 059,086.
He lamented that some ISPs were inactive and he listed some of the challenges that have made some ISPs inactive to include: Anti-competition issues; Standardizing the price of bandwidth; Need to open different Spectrum Bands (32GHz, 42GHz and 60GHz) for last mile internet access; Low Internet access in the Northern region of the country due to security challenges; Challenges of Right of Way (RoW) and conclusion of standardisation with state governments.
Others include: Multiple Taxation; Deployment of Customer Premise Equipment (CPE) compatible to all service providers; Lack of Company Corporate Code of Governance and Lack of Code of Practice for Internet Service Provision.
NCC also called on Internet Service Providers to ensure quality delivery of internet services for stronger and better connectivity.
Convener, TSSF and Managing Editor, Business Remarks, Bukola Olanrewaju, in her opening speech, said: “Over the years, studies have shown that the licence renewal rate of ISPs in Nigeria continues to drop, even as others take up the licence. In view of the critical need of internet connectivity for the digital economy and for mass digitalisation of Nigeria, the role of ISPs is central also for uptake of internet of things (IoT). “Internet Service Providers in the Nigerian telecommunications industry have been struggling to stay afloat due to challenges confronting their market to remain in business, expand operations and post profit every financial year.”
Tony Emoekpere, Managing Director at MangoNet Integrated Technologies, said the ISPs sub-sector had been too fragmented to scale up. “Local content is a real challenge. The telecommunications business is a long-term investment, which requires continuous investment and pressure to upgrade infrastructure,” Emoekpere said.
Expressing his views during a panel session, the Chief Executive Officer of Dotmac Technologies, Micheal Ayoade, tasked the Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) for more advocacy that would address issues militating against their survival and growth in the ISP industry.
According to Ayoade, “ISPs are charged a higher rate than others for Right of Way (RoW) in most states.” Using Lagos State as an example, he said license operators pay a cheaper rate compared to ISPs who are charged ten times more than the agreed N145 per linear metre rate for RoW.