NCC to balance competition with disruptive techs for sustainable telecoms ecosystem

*The Nigerian Communications Commission says it will work on essential modalities to ensure balance in healthy competition regarding the entry of new technologies to protect all industry stakeholders in the country

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

In line with the continued disruptions in the global technology industry, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has emphasised the need for balancing healthy competition with entry of disruptive technologies to ensure sustainable telecom industry growth and development in the country.

Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman (EVC)/Chief Executive Officer (CEO), stated this during a presentation to the Commission by a delegation from SpaceX, an American aerospace manufacturer and space transportations services company Thursday, May 6 in Abuja, FCT.

ConsumerConnect gathered the tech company 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.

Accordingly, SpaceX has identified Nigeria as a critical market, NCC said in a report on its Web site.

The company is said to have been in discussion with the telecom regulatory agency virtually, over the past several months to begin the process of pursuing all necessary licences to bring Starlink, its satellite-based broadband services to the country.

The Commission noted having made substantial progress in the discussion thus far, granted SpaceX’s request for a face-to-face discussion to gain better insights into 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, according to report.

Following the presentation by SpaceX team, Ubale Maska, Executive Commissioner, Technical Services at NCC, representing the Commission’s EVC/CEO, said NCC would work on necessary modalities to ensure that it balances the need for healthy competition vis-a-vis the entry of new technologies, in order to protect all industry stakeholders.

Maska said: “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 telecoms ecosystem where a licensee’s operational model does not dampen healthy competition among other licensees.”

The NCC Executive Commissioner stated that the industry regulator is interested in making necessary regulatory efforts at driving 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.

The plan’s target of 70 percent broadband penetration target, covering 90 percent of the population by 2025 is also in line with government expectations in the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), 2010-2030, noted he.

Other Senior Management staff of NCC at the briefing include 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.

The Commission added that 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.

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