By Olabisi Olaleye
Worried that the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, which houses the three arms of the Federal Government, does not have the best of telecommunications infrastructure, the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, recently led a delegation on a courtesy visit to the FCT Minister, Muhammed Musa Bello, to discuss how this could be redressed.
Specifically, Danbatta listed a number of challenges that have denied the FCT the best telecommunication service, especially quality of service.
“We have come because, we believe that, with the progressive style of your administration, these challenges will be resolved for the benefit of government, residents and national telecommunications development,” Danbatta told the minister.
The challenges include inability of operators to co-locate because sites are inadequate and do not suit the technical specifications of the service providers.
He advised that service providers should be involved in determining allocation of sites to ensure that the identified sites meet network and radio frequency standards of all stakeholders.
Danbatta also listed the 2006 fee regime of the FCTA, which still subsists, and the astronomical rise in fees for building permits imposed on operators by the FCTA.
The other hurdles include retrospective FCTA laws that affect telecom facilities, activities of road construction companies in the FCT, delayed approval for installation of base stations/fibre deployments, as well as the implementation of National Economic Council resolution on multiple taxation, levies and charges on ICT infrastructure in Nigeria.
On the 2006 fee regime of FCTA, he said it was agreed in a meeting between operators, FCTA and NCC that the FCTA would meet and harmonise positions on the astronomical increase in fees for building permits imposed by FCTA: “This has not been done and operators have continued to receive bills from the administration based on the 2006 rates. Therefore, we request your approval to establish a committee made up of officers of the FCT and the NCC to resolve issues relating to charges to ensure rates agreed are cost-based and comparable to what FCTA charges are for other users of properties.”
On the laws that affected telecom facilities, the NCC boss said any law or policy by the FCTA that affects telecom facilities should not be made retroactive.
“We have observed that the fact that telecom services in the FCT were not envisaged during its initial planning and it has resulted in administrators approaching telecom facilities as normal property and visiting them with regulations that should not be applicable. We, therefore, request that approval be given to all existing BTS in the FCTA except those that clearly pose a danger to its surrounding”. he said.
He also told the minister that the operators had complained to FCDA engineering department about frequent cuts of their fibre lines by road construction companies in the FCT. “These frequent cuts of fibres have resulted in total loss of services by subscribers and have added to the problem of poor quality of service in the FCT. Despite the efforts put in by the engineering department of the FCDA to address the complaints, the cuts have continued unabated. Road construction companies should be enjoined to exercise extreme caution to ensure reduction or total elimination of fibre cuts,” he advised.
FCT Minister, Mallam Musa Bello, promised that the capital city’s administration would collaborate with the NCC to overcome the challenges.
“Part of our job is to ease business and increase investment in the city and the country at large. We would support you in ensuring there is always increase in broadband penetration across the country,” Bello said.