Broadband: ATCON canvasses for review of data services tariffs

THE Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) has said that telecommunications infrastructure is at the heart of any global business in the modern age and that from data security and data resilience requirements, through cloud connectivity issues, to low latency and time-based stamping in trading transactions, robust, reliable and resilient networks are critical.

The president of ATCON, Mr Olusola Teniola, who made this known during a recent Broadband Summit in Lagos stated that telecommunications operators are increasingly seeking to expand customer-specific and value-added services (such as combining connectivity with application services) to retain relevancy and protect against margin erosion.

He added that at the same time, the growth of OTT (Over-the-Top) applications raises novel regulatory questions because service providers, many of whom have no infrastructure and often no physical presence at all in a country, can nevertheless use licensed operators’ infrastructure in that country to provide services.

“Two of the largest ICT markets in Africa, Nigeria and South Africa, adopted broadband policies and plans in 2013, to much international acclaim. Implementation in these two countries has, however, stalled; both identified open access as an instrument to drive broadband penetration.

“While the acclaimed broadband plans of the two countries envisaged open access as a key instrument in delivering affordable, high speed broadband services to fulfil their economic and developmental potentials, in neither of the countries has the mandatory open access broadband strategy been successfully implemented within the four years since the plans were passed,” he said.

While lamenting the factors militating against the penetration of broadband in the country, Teniola said the issue of multiple taxation and multiple FOREX windows create uncertainty within the industry among many other factors, which he said have made the current tariff structure unrealistic in the country.

He said these are factors driving the retail data prices available

in the market and that these  are unsustainable.

Teniola stressed that, “current evidence suggests that with inflation at 17 per cent, input costs at a per unit per Mb level, that retail data prices available in the market are unsustainable even with economies of scale, hence a serious distortion exists that needs immediate regulatory intervention.”

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