Preamble: The Association of Telecommunications of Nigeria (ATCON) on November 28, 2013 held a one day Telecoms Executives and Regulator’s Forum at Golden Gate Restaurant, Ikoyi, Lagos.
The forum is designed to bring the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to a roundtable interaction with the operators in the Nigerian Telecoms Industry to discuss issues relating to the mobile number portability scheme, broadband penetration, migration from analogue to digital broadcasting and its implications for telecoms, lawful interception as well of quality of service.
At the end of the presentations and extensive deliberations by the panelists, discussants and participants, the following communiqué was issued:
1. Mobile Number Portability:
– This scheme seems not to be very effective in Nigeria because most subscribers already have two, three or more mobile phones.
– Multi-sim phones also hinder the success of porting because it encourages subscribers to use more than one sim-card and this defeats the porting phenomenon.
– Porting has made the operators to be more customer-friendly.
– Operators must agree amongst themselves not to port postpaid subscribers owing their source networks.
2. Broadband: Open access, spectrum, right of way and stimulating demand
– The fear that government subsidy to newly licensed infrastructure providers could negate liberalization and competition thereby discouraging private investors was dispelled by the regulator’s assurance that government has no equity in the infrastructure service providers but is simply providing incentives to fast track the deployment of services in Nigeria
– Issues of right of way must be sorted out
– Telecoms infrastructure need to be seen as national infrastructure and must be protected
– Multiple taxation too needs to be sorted out
– Power distribution companies who already have right of way can be encouraged to join the competition to provide broadband access to their customers.
– The Regulator should jumpstart the open access model and places a price cap on services offered.
– The pricing of infrastructure providers will be published so as to curb unfair competition.
– Vertically structure firms/ GSM firms cannot completely own infrastructure companies, so they cannot control the market.
– The regulator is assuring the industry that the Open Access Model of broadband provision will involve infrastructure sharing, fair pricing and considerable incentives that would encourage accelerated penetration of broadband.
– There should be greater outreach to the general public so that the public can understand the actions of the regulators.
– Besides the usual reasons often advanced by operators for poor QOS, discussants also noted that inadequate network capacity accounts for a high percentage of issues of quality of service.
– Quality of mobile devices used by subscribers can also tamper with quality of service so we need to fight against fake phones in Nigeria.
– N730 billion is lost annually due to poor quality of service.
– The NCC has gone far in interfacing with the Federal Executive Council to tackle the issue of multiple taxation, right of way and vandalization of infrastructure; hopefully, this will help resolve the issue of poor quality of service.
– Lawful interception is desirable provided there is a law to ensure that government does not employ executive fiat to trample on the rights of individuals.
– Whereas NCC is empowered to regulate lawful interception, the existing laws have hurdles that could impede the interception process.
– Unlawful interception requires some sanctions because it is criminal
– There needs to be an act from the National Assembly to describe the extent to which security agents can go for lawful interception and what is unlawful
– Authorization of warrant for lawful interception should not be limited to judges because it might impede urgency.
– This is considered desirable as it is expected to bring about the digital dividend in Nigeria.
– The NCC has a cordial relationship with the NBC and they have guaranteed a seamless migration.