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ICT Stakeholders Push for Deeper Broadband Penetration

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Image:NCC Executive Vice Chairman, Eugene Juwah


29th March, 2012

By Emma Okonji
Information and Communications Technology (ICT) stakeholders have again called on Nigerians to join the global crave for broadband ubiquity, insisting that government should enforce broadband penetration as a digital right of every Nigerian.

The renewed call was made at the eWorld 2012 Broadband Forum held recently in Lagos, with the theme: Broadband Ecosystem: Issues For Regulators And Operators.

In his opening remarks, publisher, eWorld Magazine, organiser of the annual broadband forum, Mr. Aaron Ukodie said “in the emerging broadband world, capacity issues have come to the fore and regulation inevitably must take a policy angle.

“Spectrum has become a scare resource of premium value. Access to the internet is an issue of Universal Service Obligation (USO) and net neutrality. Convergence, which was once a marketing advantage, has become a marketing necessity. These have created more problems for the regulators. The forum therefore seeks to proffer solutions to the possible ways forward for both operators and regulators in dealing with the challenges of broadband penetration in Nigeria”

At a panel discussion that was coordinated by President of the Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Mr. Titi Omo-Ettu,  said the development of Infrastructure and content was key in driving broadband development in Nigeria.

According to Omo-Ettu, there was need to transform our business models and carry out careful planning in our bid to develop broadband, adding that in the issue of broadband, the industry is united as stakeholders are pulling at different directions unlike in the first effort to liberalise and develop the voice market when all stakeholders did not agreed on the best approach.

“Going forward in the issue of broadband we must lower prices and provide local content in the broadband pipes in Nigeria, Omo-Ettu said.

Chief Executive of Pinet Informatics, a foremost Internet Service Provider (ISP), Mr. Lanre Ajayi said “in the early days of Internet services provision in Nigeria, the issue had always been about access.”

Admitting that  Nigerians need to get access to the broadband submarine cables that have been made available and utilise the capacity provided, Ajayi said the key issue that needed to be addressed was how to create the required demand for the capacity.

Country Manager, Google, Juliet Ehimian said Google was interested in the growth of the broadband Ecosystem and the provision of Nigerian local content, as it remained an important issue in the development of the broadband ecosystem.

Speaking on the challenges of open access networks in a broadband ecosystem, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Phase3 Telecoms, Olusola Teniola, called for a regulatory approach to next generation access with the eco-system, to address the deployment of fiber in the access network (last mile), which he said, “represents a substantial transformation in architecture and poses crucial regulatory and policy questions.”

In her contribution,  Senior Manager, Regulatory Affairs of MTN, Mrs Ronke Oyetunde, said as operators move from voice to 4G in the bid to actualise the broadband ecosystem there are hurdles that need to be cleared from their path for a sustainable, speedy and efficient deployment to take place. She listed such hurdles as multiple taxation and rights of way challenges. “Until we solve them we will still not be able to get the full benefit of broadband.”

Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Eugene Juwah, represented by Director, Public Affairs, Mr Tony Ojobo, “there are quite a number of issues that a regulator will need to grapple with, when broadband becomes fully available.”

One of the issues, according to him, was how regulators would drive competition when broadband services become pervasive without retarding creativity and innovation, and at the same time ensuring that the tempo of investment are maintained to achieve service sustainability.

“In our case, we can say that a transparent regulator, who is transparent, predictable, fair, firm and consultative, would surmount such issues,” the NCC boss said.

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Updated 8 Years ago

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