The Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) and the Association of Licenced Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has supported on the introduction of Collocation and Infrastructure Sharing (C/IS) Guidelines recently released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
The two telecommunications industry trade groups, said the guidelines would encourage and promote fair competition and ensure licencees share infrastructure, speed out roll out of network facilities across underserved and unserved areas.
They said the Guidelines on Collocation and Infrastructure Sharing will help telecom operators concentrate capital expenditure (capex) in other areas where there are no build outs while sharing infrastructure resources where available with other operators.
The Guidelines establishes a framework within which Access Providers and Access Seekers can negotiate C/IS arrangements, and ensure that the incidence of unnecessary duplication of infrastructure is minimised or completely avoided; protect the environment by reducing the proliferation of infrastructure and facilities installations.
The Guidelines will increase the provision of broadband services in Nigeria, propel rapid roll-out of services and better the livelihood of Nigerians through the myriads of services that come with the Digital Economy where Fibre Infrastructure play a major role.
It will help reduce multiple diggings and laying of fibre ducts on roads, base stations within a vicinity on roads, cities and towns and reduce the incidences of multiple regulations and multiple taxations from other agencies of governments. Active Infrastructure to be shared are: Complete network structures, Switching centres, Frequencies, Radio Network controllers, and base stations.
According to the Commission, the Guidelines will promote fair competition through equal access being granted to the installations and facilities of operators on mutually agreed terms; ensure that the economic advantages derivable from the sharing of facilities are harnessed for the overall benefit of all telecommunications stakeholders; and minimise capital expenditure on supporting infrastructures and to free more funds for investment in core network equipment.
The Guidelines will also encourage Access Providers and Access Seekers to pursue a cost-oriented policy with the added effect of a reduction in the tariffs chargeable to consumers. Passive Infrastructure to be shared include: Rights of Way, Masts, Poles, Antenna mast and Tower structures, Ducts, Trenches, Space in buildings, Electric power (public or private source) and Dark Fibre.
The president of ATCON, Engr. Ikechukwu Nnamani said “The NCC has always regulated colocation services and encouraged infrastructure sharing so this is not something new. What they have constantly done is to review the prevailing regulations to be sure it is still relevant and serving the greater objectives of the regulator and the industry as a whole.
“This is good as policies that are not leading to industry growth or that have been overtaken by industry development will be changed during reviews. Infrastructure sharing and colocation is important in Nigeria as it has helped spread telecom services across the country. By sharing infrastructure, operators save on the operating expenses of each site since the same cost is shared by multiple operators.
“This results in cheaper service delivery to subscribers. Also, the colocation and Infrastructure providers are experts in that category of service delivery and the telecom operators can focus on customer acquisition and delivery of new class of services to subscribers.
“Moreover, Colocation and Infrastructure services have been in Nigeria for a long time. What is being done now is a review of the existing policies for better quality of service and efficiency. If implemented we hope to see more investment by the colocation and Infrastructure companies while service providers will utilize the infrastructure and pay the colocation and Infrastructure companies. This will lead to expansion of services to more parts of the country.
QoS and Network Improvement
The chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr. Gbenga Adebayo said, “It is within NCC’s regulatory responsibility to come up with guidelines”, adding that the Collocation and Infrastructure Sharing (C/IS) “has had significant positive impact on our network development with better time to market, reduction in cost of deployment and overall better quality of service for the sector.
“We are working with the regulator to ensure telecom service delivery in the country and other critical areas of our sector. The Collocation and Infrastructure Sharing (C/IS) guidelines will have significant positive impact on capital expenditure and we believe this will be for the greater benefit of the operators and improved quality of service experience for the users, “Adebayo added.
Fast tracking NNBP
According to them, the Collocation and Infrastructure Sharing (C/IS) guideline will fast track the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025 to create ubiquitous broadband infrastructure to drive Nigeria’s digital economy aspirations. The targets of the NNBP 2020-2025 include achieving 15Mbps & 25Mbps internet speed in rural and urban areas respectively by 2025, interconnection of 90 per cent of all LGA’s by fibre, 70 per cent Population penetration.
It will ensure 100 per cent of Tertiary Institutions to be within 5km of a fibre PoA and 60 per cent of all telecom towers to be connected by fibre, connection of one major hospital or General hospital per LGA via fibre, reduction of average cost of data to N390/Gb or less and establishment of at least one local assembly or manufacture of smart devices, reduction of RoW to N145/m, etc