Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman and CEO of NCC

Telecoms regulatory instruments to facilitate 5G deployment, tackle insecurity in Nigeria ─NCC

*The Nigerian Communication Commission says the recent review of three regulatory instruments will ensure a more robust framework for the registration of subscribers of communication services, improve standards and procedures for SIM replacements, and ensure efficient and effective utilisation of frequency spectrum in the country

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

As part of efforts at tackling challenges of the evolving communications industry and strengthening the market structure in the country, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), has declared that three of the Commission’s regulatory instruments are set to offer enabling provisions to help the country in tackling insecurity, insurgency and kidnappings.

ConsumerConnect reports Prof. Danbatta, who disclosed this development in his welcome address at the recent public inquiry on the regulatory instruments from the Commission’s Head Office, in Abuja, FCT, noted the regulations are also formulated to enhance spectrum availability to facilitate the deployment of Fifth Generation (5G) technology in the economy.

The three instruments, which were subjected to the public inquiry, held physically and virtually Tuesday, October 5, 2021, include the Spectrum Trading Guidelines (STG), Registration of Telephone Subscribers Regulations, and the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Replacement Guidelines.

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Danbatta stated said the three regulatory instruments had been developed to address the challenges of the ever evolving communications industry and to further strengthen the market structure.

The public inquiry, the NCC EVC/CEO further said, was held in line with the Commission’s consultative approach in all its regulatory interventions, as the regulatory instruments being reviewed are vital to ensuring that the regulatory frameworks.

This is to ensure instruments that pertain to SIM registration and replacement in the communications industry in Nigeria meet the demands of the digital age, and also enhance the flexibility of the spectrum trading regime.

According to him, the first instrument, the Registration of Telephone Subscribers Regulations, provides a regulatory framework for the registration of subscribers of communications services utilising subscription mediums.

He as well said that the second instrument, SIM Replacement Guidelines, provides guidance on the standards and procedure, which Network Service Providers (NSPs) are expected to adhere to in the process of conducting a SIM Replacement, swap or upgrade.

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Besides the instruments, the Commission also introduced two Business Rules that relate to SIM Registration and SIM Replacement in order to further ensure that the process for SIM activation and Replacement is seamless and aligns with the national identity management policy in Nigeria.

Danbatta stated the third instrument, the Spectrum Trading Guidelines (STG), seeks to promote certainty and transparency by outlining the detailed procedure and conditions for spectrum trading in the Nigerian communications sector.

In underscoring that the availability of spectrum frequency as a necessary element in the deployment of the 5G technology in the country, the NCC Chief further disclosed the recent approval of the 5G Deployment Plan by the Federal Government makes the STG review process expedient.

The public inquiry, he noted, is a precursor to the Commission’s current drive towards ensuring that frequency spectrum is readily available to licensees through a rapid and effective process.

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The EVC/CEO said that “in view of the resolve of the Federal Government to tackle insurgency and insecurity through citizen identity management, it has become necessary to ensure that the provisions of the Registration of Telephone Subscribers Regulations and SIM Replacement Guidelines are in alignment with the National Identity Policy for SIM Card Registration and related activities.”

He said the revision of both instruments also, was geared towards ensuring a more secure and robust process for the registration, activation and replacement of SIMs.

“It is, therefore, my expectation that the review will ensure a more robust framework for the registration of subscribers of communication services, improve the standards and procedures for SIM replacements and ensure effective and efficient utilisation of frequency spectrum in Nigeria,” Danbatta said.

Earlier in his address at the public inquiry last Tuesday, Barr. Adeleke Adewolu, Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management at NCC, said the draft of all the regulatory instruments had been published on the Commission’s Web site and comments from all stakeholders had been received and reviewed.

Adewolu, however, noted that the public inquiry was meant to receive more comments from stakeholders, which would ensure that the final regulatory instruments will enhance development of the industry.

The well-attended event witnessed by Senior Management Staff of the Commission and virtually by other external stakeholders, the NCC made presentations on the inputs so far received from licensees and other stakeholders on each of the three regulatory instruments, and highlighted issues for further rethink by all stakeholders.

The stakeholders who participated in the event virtually, were also provided the opportunity to make inputs, contribute freely to the discussions in a very frank and objective manner that elicited thoughtful discussions that will further enrich the quality of the regulatory instruments being developed for the growth of the sector and the national economy.

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