Stakeholders seek review of telecom industry structure for growth

Telecommunication mast

Stakeholders in the telecommunications industry have expressed the need for a review of the industry structure for a sustained growth.

This is against the backdrop of commencement Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) commissioned study for the determination of cost based pricing for retail data service in the country.

Oladipo Raji, chief executive officer, InfraFocus Technologies, said that focusing the study on determination of cost based pricing of both wholesale and retail data service without reviewing existing industry structure that does not allow operators to deliver quality and affordable services will be effort in futility.

He noted that there are several challenges operators are facing that are impacting negatively on their business which requires regulatory interventions.

Gbolahan Awonuga, executive secretary, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), identified the challenges to include, exorbitant charges on securing ‘Right of Way’ approvals, multiple taxation among others.

According to him, ‘any study that is not aimed at addressing these challenges holistically will be counter-productive’.

Reacting, Engr. Olusola Teniola, president, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), decried the politics being played in the licensing and take-off of INFRACOs identified as a boost in the transmission of bandwidth.

“What we witnessed and the records are there for all to see, is the numerous delays and slowing down of government to assist in the realization of the implementation – without government’s full buy-in there were mixed signals sent to the investment community as to exactly how this was going to be realized.

“We are still yet to witness any rollout of any fiber by the two INFRACO operators that were licensed in 2015-16 and as yet the remaining five INFRACO licences are still pending – with less than 12 months to go, it’ll take a miracle to move the 21% to 30% by any measure,” he added.

Godfrey Efeurhobo, managing director, Smile Communications Nigeria, acknowledged the existence of numerous challenges in the industry which is impacting negatively on the contributions of telecom to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“We need a healthy business environment to achieve growth in this sector. I believe that this cost study commissioned today (Tuesday) will highlight issues such as ‘Right of Way’ and multiple taxation which form part of operational cost of operators. At the end of this exercise, some cost that operators bear that are inimical to their operations will be jointly taken up with some agencies of government.

“This cost study will be a working document that will help us highlight where NCC can intervene to ensure that we have a profitable business and assist us rollout broadband services and give subscribers quality broadband that they require,” he added.



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