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NCC considers new structure to drive broadband growth

Published by Guardian on Wed, 12 Sep 2012


THE Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) may have approved a new industry strategy for broadband deployment that would engender effective competition at all layers of the telecommunications industry.Part of the new strategy would ensure infrastructure sharing as well as provide a veritable platform for speedy deployment of broadband infrastructure.Under the new structure, Nigeria's Internet access problem characterised by slow and exasperating access to the cyberspace despite of the growing number of underwater cable systems on the country's coastline, would in no distant time become a thing of the past.It would be recalled that at a broadband infrastructure forum in July, Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), NCC, Eugene Juwah, had disclosed that the commission was considering three possible models that would assist in the effective implementation of the commission's 'Open Access Strategy'.The strategy is specifically designed to strengthen investment in the area of deploying in-land fibre and last mile networks needed to move available bandwidth capacity around the length and breadth of the country.The three possible options presented to the forum included, the utility model, equal access model, and passive infrastructure model.According to NCC helmsman, 'the utility model provides equal access but to a reduced extent because it combines the active layer (OpCo) and the passive layer (NetCo), which brings about the InfraCo."The passive infrastructure model does not provide for equal access as it permits the OpCos (transmission companies) to also be retail service providers. 'Lastly, in the Equal Access Model, the NetCos are separated from the OpCos and the retail service providers.According to new report by the commission on Monday, Juwah indicated that after due consideration of the three industry structure models, 'the equal access model is being considered as the possible industry structure for broadband access deployment in Nigeria.'In this model, the active infrastructure providers will provide bandwidth to the retail service providers on a fair and non'discriminatory basis. The active Infrastructure providers will buy bulk bandwidth from the submarine cable companies, which are then delivered via optical fiber owned by the passive infrastructure provider. This, according to Juwah is in contrast to the current broadband infrastructure market structure that is highly vertically integrated where some players provide both passive, active and retail services on one hand, while providing passive and active (or part active) infrastructure to other players who they compete with in the retail segment on the other hand, with no price capping at the interconnecting layers.According to telecommunications experts, the current market situation has given rise to price regimes that negate the objective of increasing broadband penetration in Nigeria.Juwah disclosed that the implementation of the open access model would bridge the gaps in broadband deployment, eliminate last mile issues, reduce the price of bandwidth for end users and unlock the market for massive broadband usage in Nigeria.The commission also disclosed that it would issue licences in the passive and active layers while price caps will be implemented in these layers using cost based pricing. In the retail service layer, Juwah explained that multiple licenses will be issued, with pricing to end users determined essentially by market forces.
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