To promote fair competition in the Nigerian telecommunications industry, the regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has come out with Guidelines on Collocation and Infrastructure Sharing (C/IS) to encourage and promote infrastructure sharing among its licensees.
This is part of efforts by the NCC to ensure the success of the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025 and the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030 of the federal government to create ubiquitous broadband infrastructure to drive Nigeria’s digital economy aspirations.
The benefits of the Guidelines on Collocation and Infrastructure are that it 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, and protect the environment by reducing the proliferation of infrastructure and facility installations.
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, minimise capital expenditure on supporting infrastructure and free up 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.
On the other hand, active infrastructure to be shared are: complete network structures, switching centers, frequencies, radio network controllers, and base stations.
Some of 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 LGAs by fibre, 70 per cent population penetration, 100 per cent of tertiary institutions to be within 5km of a fibre PoA, 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.
Telecom industry players say the arrival of the Guidelines on Collocation and Infrastructure Sharing will help telecom operators to concentrate capital expenditure (capex) in other areas where there are no build outs while sharing infrastructure resources where available with other operators.
The chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr. Gbenga Adebayo said the guidelines are coming at a time that telecom infrastructure has become the infrastructure of infrastructures, driving and lubricating all other sectors of the economy.
“Today telecommunications is enabling real-time everyday communication between citizens who will otherwise have to rely on limited legacy communication channel. Let think about it, what can we do today without telecommunications? Life is not complete today with a telephone.
“The banks are driving Digital Financial Inclusion on the infrastructure provided by telecom operators,” he said while commending the NCC for being in the forefront of making sure that the ease of doing business is achieved by all stakeholders in the industry.
The guidelines, which are available on the Commission’s website, will increase the provision of broadband services in Nigeria, propel rapid roll-out of services and better the livelihoods of Nigerians through the myriad services that come with the digital economy where fibre infrastructure plays a major role.
The guidelines will help reduce multiple diggings and laying of fibre ducts on roads, base stations within the vicinity of roads, cities and towns and reduce the incidences of multiple regulations and multiple taxations from other agencies of governments.
According to the executive vice chairman, NCC, Professor Umar Danbatta, “A well planned city is one of the keys to the Digital Economy. A planned city anticipates future development, opens new revenue streams for government and safeguards roads, water pipes, bridges and other infrastructure from unnecessary destruction and re-adjustments to fit in additional infrastructure in the future.”