NCC Moves To Ensure Sustainable Telecom’s Growth

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Executive vice chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta

In the light of disruption in the world of technology, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said it is keen on balancing healthy competition with the entry of disruptive technologies to ensure sustainable telecom industry’s growth and development in Nigeria.

The executive vice chairman (EVC) of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta stated this at a presentation to the commission by a delegation from SpaceX, an American aerospace manufacturer and space transportation services company, in Abuja yesterday.

SpaceX is in the process of launching a low-earth orbiting (LOE) constellation of satellites to provide low latency, high bandwidths Internet to all corners of the globe and has identified Nigeria as a critical market.

SpaceX has been in discussion with NCC over the past several months to begin the process of pursuing all necessary licenses to bring Starlink, its satellite-based broadband services to Nigeria.

Having made substantial progress in the discussion, the commission granted SpaceX’s request for a face-to-face discussion to gain better insights on the prospects of their proposal. 

Led by SpaceX’s Starlink market access director for Africa, Ryan Goodnight and supported by the company’s consultant, Levin Born, the company provided an overview of its plans, expectations, licensing requests and deployment phases during the meeting.

After the presentation by SpaceX team, the executive commissioner, technical services, NCC, Ubale Maska, who stood in for the EVC, said NCC would work on necessary modalities to ensure that it balanced the need for healthy competition vis-a-vis the entry of new technologies, in order to protect all industry stakeholders.

“As the regulator of a highly dynamic sector in Nigeria, the commission is conscious of the need to ensure that our regulatory actions are anchored on national interest. We have listened to your presentation and we will review it vis-à-vis our regulatory direction of ensuring effective and a sustainable telecom’s ecosystem where a licensee’s operational model does not dampen healthy competition among other licensees,” he told the SpaceX delegation.

The NCC boss further said the commission was interested in making necessary regulatory efforts to drive the coverage of rural, unserved and underserved areas of the country through the accomplishments of the lofty targets contained in the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020-2025. He explained that the plan’s target of 70 per cent broadband penetration target, covering 90 per cent of the population by 2025 was also in line with government’s expectations in the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), 2010-2030.

Other senior management staff of the commission at the briefing included the executive commissioner, stakeholder management, Adeleke Adewolu; director, licensing and authorisation, Mohammed Babajika; director, technical standards and network integrity, Bako Wakil; director, new media and information security, Dr. Haru Alhassan and director, spectrum administration, Oluwatoyin Asaju, among others.

Section 70 (2) of the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA), 2003, empowers the commission to regulate the provision and use of all satellite communications services and networks, in whole or in part within Nigeria or on a ship or aircraft registered in Nigeria. This is for the purpose of ensuring a well-developed and organised satellite communications market with appropriate legal framework that meets international best practices, encourages innovation, promotes competition and guarantees public safety in the rendering of commercial satellite services.

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