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From Benjamin A Ameh, Lagos
Environment experts, telecoms stakeholders and consumers have attributed a poor services and ugly situations to where every telecoms operator is investing in the individual infrastructure in the same location, rather than sharing the existing telecoms facilities and infrastructure in one location. Also health experts are of the same opinion that telecoms industry individual infrastructure can cause bad health and also dangerous to public life.
The stakeholders are of the view that if a particular operator installs a Base Transceiver Station (BTS) in a particular location, like facilitates rollout, submarine cables; others should be able to share from such infrastructure, instead of investing in the same project.
“With infrastructure sharing, operators can save money from repeated investments and channel such money for other operations that will address service quality,” they said.
According to the stakeholders, apart from cost saving, infrastructure sharing will also reduce the frequency of road digging, while laying fibre optic cables. State governments have complained bitterly about the manner in which telecoms operators dig up roads indiscriminately, when laying telecoms cables.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), apex telecoms industry regulator, is still finding difficult to determine when the modalities for physical infrastructure sharing from the same location among telecoms operators will commence.
Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Dr. Eugene Juwah, at the Telecoms Executives and Regulator Forum organised by the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) in Lagos, said the commission was still studying the situation in order to come out with the best solution for infrastructure sharing.
EVC Juwah while reacting to the organsers’ views on share made it cleared that it would not be appropriate for the commission to compel a particular operator to allow other operators share from its existing infrastructure.
“We cannot compel submarine cable operators to open up their cable ducts to other operators to tap capacities, because it will negate our plan to licence Infrastructure Companies (Infracos), that would be responsible for distributing capacities on a wholesale basis for broadband deployment,” Juwah said.
Addressing the issue of perceived high cost of spectrum licences in the country as complained by some stakeholders, Juwah said Nigeria has the cheapest rate of spectrum cost among countries of the world.
He insisted that NCC would continue to auction available spectrum in a manner that would continue to generate income for government.
According to him, the NCC has been accused of inconsistency in the cost of spectrum sales, explaining that the cost of spectrum has never been increased in the country.
“Rather than increasing cost, the cost is actually dropping,” Juwah said.
While regulator is saying spectrum cost is the cheapest in the world, stakeholders are calling for re-evaluation and downward review of the cost of spectrum licences, in order to make its auction attractive to even small industry players.