Telecommunications Stakeholders at Odds Over Temporary Spectrum for Operators

The discussion about the quality of service (QoS) provisioning in Nigeria has been ongoing for a while now; the latest news concerning that subject is that the government is proposing to assign a temporary spectrum for operators to help improve poor network availability in Nigeria

However, stakeholders in telecommunications have expressed divided opinions over that proposal. Some have expressed positivity for the temporary spectrum, while others have kicked against it, seeking alternative approaches instead.

Spectrum, in this case, refers to the radio frequencies on which data and information are carried. For a long time, mobile operators have opined that having access to spectrum will help increase the quality of poor network as well as reduce the cost of mobile data. This is because the spectrum will allow mobile operators to cover a wider terrestrial area using existing towers to carry more data traffic.

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President, Association of Telecommunications Company of Nigeria, Engr. Olusola Teniola stands for the temporary spectrum. And he said;

“We believe strongly in government incentivising and putting in place measures that will improve our members’ ability to render improved quality of service (QoS) and customer experience to those that are working remotely and especially those workers that are directly supporting the fight against the spread of this pandemic.

“The assignment of temporary spectrum to operators that have acquired spectrum through NCC is fully supported and ATCON believes that this will be a great gesture by Government in aiding the delivery of internet services to households.” He added

On the other hand, Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, Gbenga Adebayo, is against the assignment of a temporary spectrum. He is of the opinion that instead of mobile operators waiting for the temporary spectrum, they should build more capacity to accommodate the increase in service demand and meet the requirements of subscribers, especially during such a time as this when the country is adjusting to the effects of Coronavirus. “It’s more work to be done by all stakeholders,” he said.

Speaking further, Teniola asked the government to instead focus on two key areas in their attempt to address the issues surrounding the quality of service. In his statement;

Firstly, the FOREX issue needs CBN intervention and ATCON calls on the Hon Minister of Communications and Digital Economy to assist in intervening with the Finance Minister in working out a framework where our members have reasonable access to USD$ to fund the much-needed increase in capital required to fund capacity expansion at this time.

“Secondly, it is very obvious that FDI has almost disappeared in the sector over the last 12 months on a year-on-year comparative basis and a stimulus or injection of fresh funds needs to occur to support the CAPEX programs that address the purchase of additional equipment (such as Base Stations, installation of towers, and core networks) required.

“Finally, the government can also remove all bottlenecks in key regions such as Lagos State and the FCT where the highest number of COVID-19 cases have been reported to ease the red tape in site acquisitions in both Lagos and FCT in particular.

“With the relaxation concerning site acquisitions, the black holes and gaps in infrastructure can be remedied and serve those communities and areas that are struggling to get on or use the internet as a tool to remain in touch with loved ones and assist medical staff and workers in tackling the pandemic by having access to relevant data.” Teniola added in conclusion.

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