Despite the revolution in the Nigerian telecommunications industry since the introduction of Global System for Mobile communication in August 2001, 40 million Nigerians live in places where there are no network services, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, has said.
Umar Danbatta, the executive director of the NCC, made this submission in a lecture titled, The national broadband plan as a catalyst for social and economic transformation: The NCC mandate, at an event organised by the Nigerian Academy of Engineering in Abuja.
According to Danbatta, the 40 million Nigerians reside in 207 communities across the country where gaps in telecommunications services have been identified.
The NCC boss also attributed poor quality of service in the country to neglect of fixed telecommunications services, which had put tremendous pressure on mobile wireless services.
Danbatta said to reduce pressure on the existing lower microwave frequency bands and increase broadband access across the country, the NCC planned to license the 38 GHz and 42 GHz bands, adding that both bands were suitable for short hop and point-to-point terrestrial links.
The bands also support 3G/4G/LTE backhaul and a high degree of frequency reuse due to the high directivity of their antennas.
He said, ‘Currently in Nigeria, more than 10 terabytes of telecommunications capacity exist at the landing point, but the challenge is the deployment of affordable fiber optic infrastructure across the country that will effectively distribute this capacity to the distribution nodes at the metropolitan areas of all regions in the country that will supply sufficient fibre capacity to the backbone.
‘The commission is finalising subsidy agreements with two infrastructure companies, Infraco Nigeria Limited and I-Connect Infrastructure Services Limited, for the Lagos and North Central zones, respectively to facilitate the rollout of broadband services.
‘The remaining five zones, North-East, North-West, South-East, South-South and South-West, are in the pipeline. The subsidy agreement is a Public-Private Partnership scheme in the provision of price regulated broadband services in Nigeria.’
On the socio-economic contribution of telecommunications to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product, Danbatta said in the second quarter of 2016, telecommunications contributed N1.58tn, accounting for 9.8 per cent of the nation’s rebased Gross Domestic Product.