The Executive Vice-Chairman (EVC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has said the agency was keen on balancing healthy competition with entry of disruptive technologies to ensure sustainable telecoms industry growth and development in Nigeria.
He stated this in a statement signed by Dr Ikechukwu Adinde, the commission’s Director, Public Affairs, and made available to newsmen on Friday in Abuja.
According to the statement, the NCC boss expressed the desire when a delegation from SpaceX, an American aerospace manufacturer and space transportations services company, paid him a courtesy visit in his office in Abuja.
The commission’s Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, Ubale Maska, who represented Danbatta said that the commission would work on necessary modalities to ensure that it balanced the need for healthy competition as regards new technologies to protect all industry stakeholders.
He said, “as the regulator of a highly dynamic sector in Nigeria, the commission is conscious of the need to ensure that our regulatory actions are anchored on national interest.
“We have listened to your presentation and we will review it vis-à-vis our regulatory direction of ensuring effective and a sustainable telecoms ecosystem where a licencee’s operational model does not dampen healthy competition among other licencees.”
He further stated that the commission was interested in making necessary regulatory efforts to drive the coverage of rural, unserved and underserved areas of the country.
He said that it would be done through the accomplishments of the lofty targets contained in the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020-2025.
He noted that the plan’s target of 70 per cent broadband penetration target, covering 90 per cent of the population by 2025, was also in line with government expectations in the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), 2010-2030.
According to him, Section 70 (2) of the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA), 2003, empowers the Commission to regulate the provision and use of all satellite communications services and networks.
According to him, the regulation is in whole or in part within Nigeria or on a ship or aircraft registered in Nigeria.
“This is for the purpose of ensuring a well-developed and organised satellite communications market with appropriate legal framework that meets international best practices.
“It encourages innovation, promotes competition and guarantees public safety in the rendering of commercial satellite services.”
The SpaceX’s Starlink Market Access Director for Africa, Ryan Goodnight, and the company’s consultant, Levin Born, provided an overview of its plans, expectations, licencing requests and deployment phases during the meeting.
They disclosed that SpaceX was in the process of launching a low-earth orbiting (LOE) constellation of satellites to provide low latency, high bandwidths Internet to all corners of the globe and.
They had also identified Nigeria as a critical market.
“SpaceX has been in discussion with NCC virtually over the past several months to begin the process of pursuing all necessary licences to bring Starlink, its satellite-based broadband services, to Nigeria.
“Having made substantial progress in the discussion, the commission granted SpaceX’s request for a face-to-face discussion to gain better insights on the prospects of their proposal.’’