NCC intensifies effort to boost broadband penetration




NCC Vice Chairman Prof. Umar Danbatta
NCC Vice Chairman Prof. Umar Danbatta

By Florence Onuegbu

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says it is working on ensuring the availability of spectrum to boost broadband deployment and penetration in the country.

The Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Dambatta, made this known during the 14th Annual Technology Africa Leadership Roundtable, held on Friday night in Lagos.

The theme of the Roundtable is: “Broadband, Big Data, Cyber Security, Local Content, Infrastructure Protection: Catalyst for Economic Growth and National Development”.

Represented by Mr Anthony Ikemefuna, Assistant Director, Technical Standards and Network Integrity, NCC, Dambatta said that spectrum was a critical mobile infrastructure, which would enhance broadband penetration.

He said that the Commission was striving to provide the required frequency spectrum capacity by facilitating the re-farming of existing spectrum held by operators to provide broadband services.

Spectrum re-farming is the process of re-deploying spectrum from available users and re-allocating it to others.

According to him, there is limited spectrum bandwidth in the country, hence, the need for the re-farming.

Dambatta said that the regulatory body would re-farm the spectrum without impacting on the operators’ Quality of Service (QoS) delivery.

The NCC boss said that access to telecommunications services was critical to the development of all aspects of a nation’s economy, including manufacturing, banking, education, agriculture and government.

He said that telecommunications infrastructure was regarded as a vital instrument for ensuring economic development.

According to him, the protection of this vital infrastructure cannot be overemphasised.

“Broadband is a productivity-enabling technology; hence, optimal deployment of broadband infrastructure via the Infraco model in the face of existing broadband infrastructure challenges is critical to driving broadband availability, accessibility and affordability in Nigeria.

“The availability of broadband infrastructure will unlock new opportunities and drive a second wave of growth in the telecommunications industry and the economy after the exponential growth of voice service.

“Telecoms’ contribution to the economy (10.11 per cent to GDP in Q1 2019) is significant and will continue to grow.

“The process for new spectrum auctions and assignments to drive mobile and wireless broadband is ongoing,” he said.

Dambatta said that the Commission was on the process of auctioning and assigning the Digital Dividend (700 megahertz) for 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) coverage requirements and the 2.5/2.6 gigahertz spectrum auction for 4G LTE capacity requirements.

He said that NCC would assign more high capacity spectrum bands like the 70/80 GHz spectrum bands.

The convener of the programme, Pedro Aganbi said that the widespread deployment of digital and other communication infrastructure was creating an unprecedented increase in the volume of data.

Aganbi said that it was the deluge of the digital data that was now popularly called ‘big data’.

He said that as the economy gets more connected, the need to safeguard data, secure transactions and protect digital infrastructure was growing exponentially.

According to him, as the society becomes connected economically, driven by the rapid deployment of broadband internet, it is changing the way people work, socialise, create and share information.

“Evidently, the infrastructure that makes this possible undoubtedly is a strategic economic growth driver; and a catalyst for socioeconomic development,” he said.

Aganbi said that the roundtable was an opportunity to renew contacts and discuss problems of mutual interest with delegates across Nigeria’s information technology and related space.

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