Yesterday the 2013 Telecom Executives and Regulator’s forum organised by the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria with support from Nigerian Communications Commission was held in Lagos,Nigeria.Below is the excerpt of the Keynote Speech by Dr Eugene Juwah,the Executive Vice Chairman of Nigerian Communications Commission(NCC)
Dr Eugene Juwah,EVC NCC
The Nigerian Telecommunication Industry – Some Programmes of the Commission
The provision of telecommunication services has evolved over time from the exclusive preserve of a state monopoly like Nitel which was run as an agency of government to the current private sector led growth. The world has taken voice telephony as basic while moving fast into the new world of data transmission for the provision of multimedia services and access to the internet. Broadband is simply characterised by the speed at which the Internet highways transmit data from one end of the world to another or from one computer to another.
As the industry continues to develop, ensuring effective completion amongst industry players, optimal quality of service provision to subscribers, providing the required framework for the development of the broadband ecosystem through supporting the provision of both fixed and mobile broadband infrastructures, as well as ensuring the implementation of frameworks that support the attainment of important security requirements of the country in the new digital world is pertinent. In this regard, the Commission has taken several steps towards the attainment of these objectives. Some of these are:
- The introduction of Mobile Number portability (MNP)
- The coming into force of the QoS regulation
- The articulation of the Nigerian Open Access framework
- Taken steps to make additional spectrum bands available for the industry
Mobile Number Portability
The mobile number portability scheme launched in Nigeria on the 22nd of April 2013 removed one of the key restrictions on subscribers changing their network providers. It made it possible for subscribers to move their mobile subscriptions from one operator to another without changing their mobile numbers
This is in line with the objective of the Commission to continually empower subscribers and deepen competition in the telecommunication industry, whilst putting required framework in place for continuous improvement in quality of service delivery.
The MNP scheme has provided the required impetus for players within the industry to become more proactive and expedite resolution of subscriber issues whilst also launching new products aimed at retaining the loyalty of their subscribers.
Like any technology based service, there is a mechanism for continuous feedback from players and subscribers within the telecommunication industry to be incorporated into the MNP scheme to continually improve the MNP experience. Also, the Commission is committed to ensuring all participating mobile operators in the scheme adhere to the MNP business rules agreed to by all players represented in the MNP steering group.
Quality of Service Delivery
The delivery of optimal quality of service by operators to subscribers is a key goal of the Commission. Operators are obligated to provide quality services to their subscribers, as these services are paid for, in most cases on a pre-paid basis.
The operating environment has been variously blamed for the challenge in consistently meeting the expectations of subscribers. Whilst these challenges like electrical power issues, multiple taxation, generator theft, fibre infrastructure damage and vandalisation as well as multiple regulations at various levels of government have been highlighted as the reason behind this, operators need to ensure more proactive measures in the operation and design of their networks are taken to ameliorate some of these issues as subscribers are, rightly so, interested in enjoying the services paid for without issues. The Commission has taken steps to address these challenges with relevant agencies of government with the active support of the Honourable Minister of Communication Technology. The Commission has also put in place a methodology for fairly and objectively assessing the QoS delivery from operators’ networks.
The Nigerian Open Access Framework
The Nigerian telecommunication industry is dominated by few vertically integrated players that have created infrastructures (with duplications) which are being leveraged on to compete in the provision of broadband services. These infrastructures are usually only available to new players in the broadband market at a premium as replication of the infrastructure is both capital intensive and has a long lead time for delivery. This has led to unfavourable pricing of services in the market place which in-turn inhibits an increase in broadband penetration.
To address the above scenario and open up the industry for effective competition in line with the Commissions objective, the restructuring of the industry became pertinent. This informed the articulation of the Nigerian open Access model. This model is a key part of the Nigeria National Broadband Plan. To achieve the objectives of the Nigerian Open Access framework, the Commission has:
- Held several consultations has been held with industry to incorporate useful industry feedback into the framework
- Divided the broadband infrastructure industry into three (3) layers; the passive network, wholesale bandwidth services and retail Service Providers layers.
- Properly mapped the fibre infrastructure in the country
- Divided the country into seven (7) license areas for the provision of fibre infrastructure
- Commenced the auction process for one (1) slot of 30 MHz in the 2.3 GHz for wholesale wireless access service provision
The above in addition to others is geared towards opening up the broadband sub-segment of the industry and ensures the benefits of increased broadband penetration accrue to the country.
Analog to Digital Migration of the Broadcast Industry
The migration of the broadcast industry from analog to digital means of transmitting their signals has presented an opportunity to free up valuable frequency spectrum for use in the provision of services that will be most economically and socially valuable to the country. With developments in technology, the bandwidth requirement for the provision of broadcast content has reduced. This means capacity left un-utilsed can be used for other purposes. This freeing up of spectrum bandwidth due to the migration from analog to digital techniques has led to the digital dividend in the 700 MHz band. There is also the freeing up of the 2.6 GHz spectrum band also planned auction and deployment of this for the provision of broadband access services once all the broadcast services on this band has been successfully migrated off the band. These bands are currently under the control of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
From the Nigerian National Broadband Plan, wireless broadband is a key driver towards the attainment of the broadband penetration objectives of government. As a result, the 700 MHz spectrum band will be available for auction for the provision of wireless broadband services when the band is freed up on the conclusion of the analog to digital migration of the broadcast industry which is scheduled to be completed in 2015. This will provide players within the industry with the required spectrum holding to both cost effectively increase their wireless coverage as well as provide optimal broadband services to subscribers.
Notwithstanding the benefits that have been associated with broadband, in developing countries it has to be understood that broadband for all is a medium to long term strategy and the main beneficiaries, in the short term, of the broadband revolution will be businesses. Because broadband networks need to generate traffic to lower their costs and increase their profitability, and in light of the fact that broadband is an ecosystem in which users play a central role, stimulating demand is a very important.
In conclusion, the increased expansion of telecommunication infrastructure and new ways of utitlising these infrastructures to communicate has also regrettably created means for the criminally minded to use electronic methods in perpetrating their criminal acts. The Commission will thus ensure that the security agencies continually get the required support in carrying out their legally assigned duties.
In addition, the Commission is committed towards ensuring a vibrant telecommunication industry that positively contributes to the socio-economic development of the country through the articulation and implementation of frameworks, regulations and policies towards this goal.