Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has called on the Federal Government to revisit the issue of Right of Way (RoW) to make the telecom industry to thrive.
RoW is generally used for the telecommunications industry to denote the land on which telecom companies may lay their telecom infrastructures including connectivity cables.
Mr Gbolahan Awonuga, the Secretary of ALTON made this disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday, January 18, in Abuja.
Awonuga said that the issue RoW and multiple taxation had been a problem in the telecommunication sector.
“Government should do the needful and not see telecom industry as cash-cow; we are in recession and telecom is an exceptional as we in the same ecosystem.
“Government should make things conducive for stakeholders in the sector so that they can give world class service to Nigerians.
“It depends on the government actions and policy, the issue of multiple taxation and right of way has been the problem in the telecom sector.
“The cost of right of way alone is not helping the situation and that is why government should do the needful to achieve the broadband plan that is targeted for 30 per cent in 2018.
“I don’t have a different opinion from the regulators if they say we can achieve it, achievable in what sense, is it by mobile or by last mile; if the regulator said we can achieve it, there is no issue about that.’’
Last mile or last kilometre is a colloquial phrase widely used in the telecommunications, cable television and internet industries to refer to the final leg of the telecommunications network that deliver services to the end users.
“But in order to make things easier for telecom operators, they need to revisit the issue of right of way, if the issue of right of way is still a challenge then the problem in the industry will still exist.’’
Awonuga said broadband penetration had to do with right of way, adding that if the right of way was inaccessible and too expensive, then broadband would be expensive “and you have to weigh the cost to the price’’.
He said that the telecom operators had problem with states shutting down their sites.
“Currently Taraba State Government is shutting down our sites despite the insecurity in the state by requesting for illegal revenue which the operators doesn’t have.
“They want to do Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) which is the function of the Ministry of Environment and not for states, so Taraba State should liaise with the Ministry of Environment and come out with a solution but they refused.
“In Taraba State now about 80 per cent of our sites have gone down and this will affect security in the state as time goes on,’’ he said.
Awonuga appealed to government to priorities telecom infrastructure as “Critical National Security Infrastructure’’.
He said that once this was done, anybody found tampering with telecom infrastructure was committing a crime and would be dealt with accordingly.
“The pronouncement by the president referring to the telecom infrastructure as “critical is what we need in 2018’’.