The Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) has called for the intervention of Communications Ministry to accelerate telecommunications infrastructure deployment in the country.
According to the body, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Patanmi needs to engage with the Federal Capital Development Authority counterpart to allow operators to build new sites as means to enhance Quality of Service (QoS).
ATCON also highlighted that Abuja’s masterplan need to be reviewed to accommodate telecom infrastructure.
Speaking on Abuja’s masterplan, Teniola said, “The masterplan was done about 40 years ago. We are in evolving society; back then, no one would have known that we will have a 187 million mobile subscribers. It requires infrastructure support to grow the mobile subscriber base we have today which means towers needs to be erected. Thus, we will continue to struggle if we are not able to put up tower sites. We need more.
“Presently, we have 39,000 tower sitescovering a population of 200 million in a very expansive land mass that Nigeria depicts. So, if we really want to get that quality of service and rollout services in more areas, we need to go from 39,000 to around 80,000 towers. UK with less population has 77,000 towers. We need sites acquisitions and other incentives the FCT authorities can give to our members.
Addressing ICT journalists in Lagos, the President, Engineer Olusola Teniola, stated “Since the outbreak of corona virus in Nigeria and through the assistance of the Government, members have been able to ensure the availability of networks. Our members were granted right-of-passage during the lockdown. Having said that, some subscribers would have witnessed some network congestions; it has really been a trying time on our networks.
“Thus, we have been engaging government to also add to the incentives to ensure there is continuous increase of capacity of our network such as offering additional spectrum. In addition, the issue around forex (foreign exchange) is very germane in ensuring that we can acquire equipment to alleviate the congestions and improve quality of service (QoS).
“Also, we need to build more infrastructure; it requires more sites. Site acquisition is a challenge in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT, Abuja. We plead with the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, to kindly intervene by meeting with his counterpart in the FCT”, he said.
Furthermore, on ATCON’s request for additional spectrum and relaxation of the KPI for QoS during the Covid-19 pandemic, Teniola said, “One of the things I will say is that it is work in progress. We have engaged governments and they are aware. We have done it formally. However, we appreciate that our submission for additional spectrum is being considered. The Nigerian Broadband Plan of 2020-2025 speaks to that. So, everyone who is plan of that understands why it is difficult for our members presently. Whether we are going to get it in time is another question, we will like it expedited as much as possible”.
“The area around forex is a big one. With all this being said, spectrum is not free. The government can give us, maybe, three-months-leeway; after that, it will be paid for.
He reiterated that covid-19 has changed the way businesses are done, affecting healthcare delivery, education, religious gatherings, amongst others. “And post-covid-19, things will not return to normal as we used to know them. That is why we need to build our infrastructure to sustain our development and possibly achieve the 70% broadband penetration by 2025”.