The third-generation (3G) and fourth-generation (4G) base transceiver stations (BTS) deployment in Nigeria has increased from 30,000 to 53,460 while fibre optic transmission cables expanded from 47,000km to 54,725km in the last five years, resulting in improved broadband/telecoms service.
These were parts of industry growth data reeled out by the Executive Vice Chairman of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, at a briefing for the new Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Festus Yusuf Daudu, on the functions and regulatory activities of the Commission in Abuja.
In the comprehensive briefing, the EVC spoke on NCC’s enabling laws, mandates of NCC, the structure of NCC, implementation approach of its mandates and methodology, key focus and targets, scorecards, the new soon-to-be-unveiled Strategic Management Vision (SVP) and NCC’s contributions to the economy. Other issues touched were various regulatory frameworks aimed at improving service delivery, challenges confronting the sector and proposed solutions.
According to Danbatta, the effective regulatory regime emplaced by the leadership of the Commission has resulted in increased deployment of infrastructure by telecoms operators, which in turn has helped to improve broadband penetration and other related service delivery in the telecoms industry.
“The BTS, fibre optic cables and other related infrastructure are central to the provision of improved service experience for Nigerians by their respective telecoms service providers,” he said, adding that the licensed Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) are expected to add 38,296km to optic fibre cables when they commence operations.
According to the EVC, as of November 2020, active telephony subscribers stood at 208 million with teledensity standing at 108.92 per cent while active Internet subscriptions were 154.9 million in addition to broadband penetration of 45.07 per cent.
He also spoke on various initiatives undertaken by the Commission to ensure consumer protection and empowerment. These, according to him, include the declaration of 2017 as Year of the Telecom Consumer, introduction of the 622 toll-free line for lodging and resolving consumer complaints, the provision of the 112 emergency number and activation of 19 Emergency Communications Centre (ECCs).
Other consumer-centric regulatory measures intervention, according to the EVC, include the issuance of various directions to mobile network operators (MNOs) to protect the consumers from being short-changed, ensuring the smooth transition of Etisalat to 9Mobile, consumer outreach programmes, introduction and enforcement of mobile number portability (MNP) as well as introduction of the Do-Not-Disturb (DND) 2442 to check cases of unsolicited text messages.
He disclosed that the number of subscriptions to DND service has surpassed 30 million as the service empowers Nigerians to protect themselves against the menace of unsolicited text messages.
In recognition of the growth opportunities associated with the deployment of broadband and its associated technologies, Danbatta said the Commission has positioned itself in government’s drive for a digital Nigeria, as contained in the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (2020 – 2025), the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (2020 – 2030) and the Strategic Management Plan (2020 – 2024) of the Commission.
In his reaction, the Perm Sec commended the leadership of the Commission, acknowledging the upward growth attributed to the effective regulatory regime, the central role NCC is playing in the digital transformation of the Nigerian economy as well as the impressive contribution of the sector to the country’s Gross Domestic (GDP).