NCC plans new spectrum auctions to boost 30% broadband target.

As part of efforts targeted at meeting the 2018 broadband penetration target of 30 per cent, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) will soon auction and asign new spectrum to telecommunications operators in the country.

NCC said this has become necessary going by the dire need to connect the unconnected and serve the underserved and unserved populace in the country.

With operators having access to spectrum, the estimated 205 communities, which house about 40 million Nigerians, who are yet to have any telephony experience can be served, with other things been in place, including power, regulations, among others.

The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, made this known in Lagos, at the weekend, during the Telecom Executives and Regulator Forum, organised by the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) with the theme: “Removing Barriers to Growth and Innovation.”

Umar also informed that within the last 15 months of the introduction of the Do-Not-Disturb (DND) code 2442, about eight million users of telephone services in the country have activated it.

While urging other Nigerians who are yet to activate the code but felt disturb by the menace of unsolicited SMS to do so, adding that those subscribers, who have activated the code would not experience the menace any more.

Represented by the Deputy Director, NCC Technical Standards and Network Integrity, Bako Wakili, Danbatta said the process for new spectrum auctions and assignments to drive mobile and wireless broadband is ongoing.

The EVC explained that spectrum was a critical mobile infrastructure vital for nationwide Internet broadband growth.

“The commission will facilitate the re-farming of existing spectrum held by operators to provide broadband services without impacting their Quality of Service (QoS) delivery. We will auction the 2.5/2.6 Gigahertz (GHz) spectrum for Fourth Generation (4G) Long Term Evolution (LTE) capacity requirements.

“The commission will also auction the 700 Megahertz (MHz) band once available, for 4G LTE coverage requirements and will open up and assign other spectrum bands in an open and transparent manner,” he said.

Danbatta, who bagged the ‘Telecom Man of the Year’ at the award nite, the second leg of the forum, said that the Nigerian Broadband Plan (NBP) within the Nigerian context was defined as an Internet experience where the user could access the most demanding content in real time, at a minimum speed of 1.5 megabit per second.

According to him, broadband also means high-capacity networks that can deliver very large amounts of information simultaneously; as a result, they can deliver voice, data and video all at the same time.

“The broadband industry ecosystem comprises of government policies and programmes, regulatory frameworks and environment, then the supply and demand sides of the services.

“The industry is currently seeing the trend of increasing use of data enabled devices such as smartphones, dongles, MiFis, among others.”

“With pervasive voice services objective largely achieved, the operators now focus on growth of data services and provision of optimal QoS delivery,” he said.

Danbatta said that the current status of broadband infrastructure in Nigeria showed that there was adequate international bandwidth from international submarine cable landing on the country’s shores.

On this, he said that optimal deployment of broadband infrastructures was critical to driving broadband availability, accessibility and affordability in Nigeria.

According to him, the availability of broadband infrastructure will unlock new opportunities and drive a second wave of growth in the telecommunications industry and the economy.

He said that broadband was a productivity enabling technology and its penetration rate was 21 per cent as at February 2017.

Danbatta said the commission was optimistic towards achieving the 30 per cent broadband penetration target by 2018.

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