The National Broadcasting Commission says it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a private firm, Corrido Communications Limited, for the use of TV White Space to connect rural communities to broadband communications services.
The Director- General of the NBC, Mallam Ishaq Kawu, disclosed this at a stakeholders’ forum on rural connectivity using TV White Space in Abuja on Tuesday.
TV White Space refers to unused broadcasting frequencies in the wireless spectrum.
Kawu who was represented by Victoria Eke said Corrido Communications had satisfactorily demonstrated proof of the concept before the MoU was signed. However, he warned that there must be no interference with the operations of broadcast stations.
“NBC is in full support of any effort to achieve rural connectivity,” he said.
Speaking at the event, Executive Vice- Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof Umar Danbatta, said that both NCC and NBC had received marching orders from the National Frequency Management Council to work together for the realisation of the use of TV White Space in rural broadband connectivity.
Danbatta who was represented at the event by the Director of Spectrum Administration, Mr Austin Nwalune, said cheaper connectivity was required in rural communities because of the challenge of capacity to pay for commercial services in the communities.
He said, “Rural areas are very challenging terrains. The costs of delivering services in rural areas are higher than in urban areas yet the ability of people in rural communities to pay is lower.
“If TV White Spaces are not used, they will be fallow. The commission is resolute in bridging the communications divide between urban and rural communities.
“NCC and NBC are collaborating to ensure the use of TV White Space for broadband services. The two agencies have been mandated to go and work out how this will happen.”
Speaking at the event, Minister of Communications, Mr Adebayo Shittu, said the government had approved the use of TV White Space for rural connectivity.
He said, “The use of TV White Space is now an emerging trend to further bridge the digital divide, to transmit data over long distances and reach underserved rural communities. This would drive up spectrum efficiency.
“Government has approved the use of a new technology, TV White Space in a bid to extend broadband Internet coverage, especially to rural communities and other far-flung communities. Government is eager for the use of TV White Space to increase broadband penetration in Nigeria.”
Shittu added that Nigeria’s policy in the telecommunication field was development oriented, neutral and transparent.