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We’ll ensure access to pervasive broadband – NCC

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says it will ensure access to pervasive broadband through an Open Access Model as a strategy to narrow the gap between existing and planned fibre infrastructure.

The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, gave the assurance at the 10th edition of the E-World Forum and Awards.

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The event held in Lagos on Monday with the theme “Roadmap to Broadband Everywhere”.

Danbatta, who was represented by Mr Oluwatoyin Asaju, Director, Spectrum Administration, NCC, presented the keynote address on ”Broadband for Sustainable Development”.

“In order to address this gap, the commission has set a strategic imperative to ensure access to pervasive broadband through an Open Access Model in line with the National Broadband Plan.

“That is one of the initial strategic actions of the Federal Government, through the commission, in the journey toward facilitating the availability, affordability and accessibility to broadband infrastructure and services.

“The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development established by the International Telecommunications Union maintains that improving the livelihoods of citizens around the world through sustainable development represents one of the greatest challenges facing humanity today.

“This challenge is, however, one that can easily be mitigated, utilising broadband,” he said.

He noted that broadband referred to high speed internet which could largely be delivered through optic fiber, wireless spectrum and high throughput satellites.

“It is defined for Nigeria as a speed of not less than 1.5 Mbps. This speed will be reviewed upwards with additional deployment of broadband infrastructure.”

Danbatta said that deployment of optic fibre transmission network had been adopted in the Open Access Model to bridge the current digital gap and deliver faster and reliable broadband services to household and businesses,”.

He said that the success of the model was evident in the growth witnessed in the provision of broadband services by major players in the industry through one technology or the other.

According to him, as at first quarter of this year, Nigeria achieved 33.08 per cent broadband penetration; thus, 63 million Nigerians are currently connected to broadband internet services.

Danbatta said that the commission had concluded licensing and output-based subsidy negotiations of six Open Access Model Infrastructure Companies (Infracos) for the country in an effort to drive broadband infrastructure licensing and deployment.

He said that the Infraco licencees were to provide IP fibre optic capacity to all the 774 local government areas of the federation on an open access, price-regulated basis, with a 10 Gbps Point of Access capacity in each local government.

He said that the project was for a four-year period, with the negotiated subsidies to be paid to the Infraco licencees at the attainment of agreed and verified milestones.

He said that the commission had also continued to make available wireless spectrum resources to operators, as well as create an enabling environment and a level-playing field through various regulatory instruments, for the growth and development of the industry.

“Broadband can reduce poverty and inequality, help ensure access to health and education, help to mitigate climate change, promote peace and international cooperation and ensure sustainable development in decades to come.

“Broadband is a fundamental technology and a game changer to achieve sustainable development for future generations of Nigerians; hence, the persistent calls for investments in broadband infrastructure and the strive to reduce challenges that undermine the achievement of universal broadband service, some of which are poor electricity supply and access gaps,” he said.

He said that tackling the challenges would enhance the speed of broadband to the un-served and under-served areas of Nigeria, adding that building of an efficient broadband network would facilitate progress in many areas.

Earlier, the organiser of the event, Mr Aaron Ukodie, Managing Director of Ajo Media and Publisher of E-world news, said that there was the need for new agenda that would help to achieve digital revolution.

According to him, to achieve the revolution, the regulator has to focus more on enabling the players and making the environment more investment-friendly.

“The licensed infracos are encouraged to give access to all parts of the country, and this will give them free hands to deploy technology, as new technologies are emerging.

“Nigeria should begin to think about these new technologies, 5G, and how we are going to be able to achieve the digital revolution,” he said.

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