The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has identified key challenges facing Internet Service Providers, ISPs in the country.
According to Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said currently the service providers are affected by Right of Way (RoW) issues in the industry and conclusion of standardization with State Governments, multiple taxations, Deployment of Customer Premise Equipment (CPE) compatible with all service providers, lack of Company Corporate Code of Governance and lack of Code of Practice for Internet Service Provision.
Speaking at the Telecoms Sector Sustainability Forum, organized by Business Remarks at the City Height Hotel in Lagos, Danbatta, noted that total subscribers for data services in Nigeria as of February 2022 stood at 144, 059,086.
He said the NCC has licensed 756 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as of March 2022, out of which 188 ISPs are active, stressing that the National Policy on Digitization as well as the National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 can only be facilitated through Internet Service Provision.
In a keynote address at the forum with the theme “Examining the Nigerian Internet Service Providers (ISPs) Viability in a Digitized Environment”, Danbatta, further said ISPs in Nigeria face other challenges bothering on anti-competition issues, standardizing the price of bandwidth, the need to open different Spectrum Bands (32GHz, 42GHz and 60GH2) for last-mile internet access and low Internet access in the Northern region of the country due to security challenges.
Having noticed these challenges, Danbatta said the agency is looking at deliberate policies and regulations to ensure that ISPs and other smaller players in the industry thrive.
Some of such policies and regulations include providing the required regulatory frameworks and interventions in terms of policies, guidelines and determinations that will encourage fair play in the telecommunications industry, encouraging and mandating more openness and transparency in the activities of stakeholders within the industry in order to ensure healthy competition practices amongst competing licensees.
Others are promoting digitization efforts across the length and breadth of the industry, commitment to the full realization of the objectives of the Nigeria National Broadband Plan 2020-2025, and actively engaging in strategic collaborations with stakeholders who have crucial roles to play in the growth and development of the Nigerian economy with an emphasis in the Telecommunication Sector.
He also said NCC will encourage industry stakeholders to seek and exploit opportunities, adding that licensing of 3.5GHz will create an enabling environment for Internet Service Providers to strive in Nigeria.
“The digitization of the economy can only come into being when the ISPs are fully encouraged and that is what the Commission is focusing on to ensure that enabling environment is created through the development of regulatory instruments that will address the concerns of ISPs in particular and the telecommunications sector at large,” he said.
Meanwhile, Business Remarks, the organizer of the Telecoms Sector Sustainability Forum, has said the forum was organized in order to examine the role of the Internet Service Providers, who it believes provide the connectivity and gateway to a digitized world.
Giving her opening remark, Bukola Olanrewaju, Convener of the forum, noted that given the internet’s increasingly important role and adoption, the shift to a digital economy offers abundant opportunities, in which connectivity plays a key role.
But ISPs, which provide the infrastructure for a digital economy have been struggling. “Internet Service Providers in the Nigerian telecommunications industry have been struggling to stay afloat due to challenges confronting their market to remain in business, expand operations and post profit every financial year,” she said.
She added that over the years, studies have shown that the licence renewal rate of ISPs in Nigeria continues to drop, even as others take up the licence. According to her, findings also showed that most of the ISPs who served the enterprise market lost revenue during the pandemic because their services were canceled or suspended, despite procuring wholesale capacity.
The Telecoms Sector Sustainability Forum enjoyed the sponsorship and participation of the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), Skymax Integrated Network Limited, IPNX, eStream Networks, WTES Projects Limited, MangoNet Integrated Technologies, FibreOne Broadband, Dotmac Technologies, ICSL, NITDA