The Nigerian Communications Commission has licensed three new telecom infrastructure companies to fill critical infrastructure gaps as part of moves to attain the 30 per cent broadband penetration.
Findings by our correspondent showed that Sammya Limited, formerly Odua Telecoms, had been given approval to lay fibre optic infrastructure in the South-West region excluding Lagos and Fleek Networks Limited was licensed to enable broadband services in the North-West Nigeria.
It was gathered that Raeanna Nigeria Limited had also been licensed to build broadband infrastructure in the South-South region after fulfilling all requirements.
This brings the total number of Infracos to six as three other companies had earlier been issued permits as part of the National Broadband Plan of the Nigerian government.
Zinox Technologies was licensed in December last year to deploy metropolitan fibre-optic infrastructure in the South-East of the country while Brinks Integrated Solutions Limited won the bid for the North-East region.
In 2015, IHS and MainOne emerged winners of the bid and were authorised to lay metropolitan optic fibre for the North-Central, including Abuja and Lagos under the open access model.
However, it was gathered that the commission was actively shopping for another company to take on the project for the North-Central region and Abuja following the refusal of the licensed company, IHS, to continue with the deployment of telecom infrastructure.
According to the NCC, the Open Access Model for fibre-optic network deployment is best suited to bridge the digital divide, facilitates the development of local content, and delivers fast and reliable broadband services to households and businesses.
The infrastructure companies are expected to help address the challenges of fibre deployment in towns and cities and assist the country to achieve the 30 per cent broadband penetration target by the end of 2018.
The Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, had recalled that the broadband plan set a minimum target of 20 per cent and maximum of 30 per cent by the end of 2018.
According to him, achieving 22 per cent penetration means the commission has exceeded the minimum threshold.
Despite the licensing of these companies to carry out the projects, affordable right of way remained a major impediment to the deployment.
Speaking at a forum recently, the Chairman, NCC, Senator Durojaiye Olabiyi, identified multiple taxation/regulation, right of way, arbitrary and indiscriminate charges, vandalism of telecom infrastructures, poor power supply as some of the problems hindering the attainment of 30 per cent broadband penetration by 2018.
“As you all know, we are faced with a number of challenges plaguing the industry and the commission is doing its best to address the issues in order to continue to stimulate the economy,” he assured.
Olabiyi added, “The commission has completed the licensing using the Open Access Model which is non-discriminatory and enables infrastructure sharing to bridge the gap and deliver very robust, fast and reliable broadband services in the country. This will help to stimulate other sectors of the economy and lead to economic growth.”