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Right of Way: FG, states agree on harmonised charges

Right of Way: FG, states agree on harmonised charges

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Everest Amaefule, Abuja

The Federal Government and the 36 states of the federation as well as the Federal Capital Territory Administration have agreed on harmonised Right of Way charges across the country, the Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof Umar Danbatta, has said.

Danbatta disclosed this at a stakeholders’ engagement forum with relevant state agencies in charge of telecommunications matters in Abuja on Tuesday.

According to Danbatta, telecom operators will now be required to pay N145 per metre to lay fibre cable anywhere in the country.

The NCC boss said the agreement was sealed at the National Economic Council meeting chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo with state governors in attendance.

Danbatta stated that before now, the operators were paying various sums ranging from N4,000 to N8,000 per metre in different parts of the country, adding that such high and arbitrary charges were a disincentive to investment in the telecommunications sector.

He said, “We need to build at least 80,000 Base Transceiver Station sites to close access gaps and improve quality of service, but ecosystem issues are holding back investments.

“As industry regulator, the NCC finds this situation both unacceptable and unsustainable. We are pleased to note that several efforts are ongoing to arrest these challenges, some at the very highest levels of government.”

He added, “In this regard, we are encouraged by the efforts of the Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, and the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, working through the National Economic Council and the Governors’ Forum, respectively.

“For years, we have over 19.2 terabytes of installed fibre capacity landed at our shores, but we have not been able to take sufficient capacity into the hinterlands mainly due to these ecosystem issues.

“We want to augment the existing capacity with at least 18,000 kilometres of new optic fibre through our InfraCo model and other initiatives, but ecosystem issues are slowing us down.”

Also speaking at the event, the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholders’ Management, NCC, Mr Sunday Dare, said over the years, as telecom infrastructure were becoming more ubiquitous, operators were finding it more difficult to meet prescribed rollout and quality of service benchmarks.

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