Telecoms: ATCON seeks FG intervention on critical infrastructure, others

The Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) has urged the Federal Government to intervene in safeguarding the critical infrastructure of the companies from vandalism and destruction.

This is just as the Association also urged the government to also intervene on some of the challenges the telecommunications companies face such as the introduction of Telecoms Interconnection Clearing Scheme to resolve the ongoing Interconnect debt.

Speaking during a meeting with the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, the President of ATCON, Olusola Teniola said the essence of the meeting was to discuss and highlight some issues that are militating against the growth of the wider telecoms industry.

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He also said the meeting would avail them the opportunity to share thoughts with the Minister on how Telecom and ICT can serve as a needed catalyst for economic development in Nigeria.

Some of the major issues that informed our decision to have this courtesy visit are Regulation toolkit updates (NCC/NITDA/NBC), Broadband Plan (to 70% by 2024) and critical national infrastructure.

On Regulations toolkit update, he said: “convergence is upon us and our regulations need to remain relevant to digital issues – data protection and privacy, jurisdiction and sovereignty are themes that we wish the Ministry to focus on with respect to our current multifaceted regulatory environment”.

On the broadband plan, he said “Immediately after the expiration of the last Broadband Plan, our Association quickly put together a post-Nigerian Broadband Plan Meeting in which key stakeholders evaluated the expired broadband plan and came up with some recommendations that could help Nigeria to maximise the potentials inherent in Broadband. We are happy to share relevant documents with you that will assist you in this”.

While commenting on critical National infrastructure, Teniola said “some outstanding areas with NCC that needs your oversight are as a priority: Critical National Infrastructure and the introduction of a Telecoms Interconnection Clearing Scheme to resolve the ongoing Interconnect debt (most recent is the Airtel-Glo partial disconnect process publicised by NCC on the 18th of October 2019)”.

While responding, the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami assured the Association that he would look into observations and take necessary action.

On local content, the Minister said “I have launched the reviewed version of Nigeria content policy in August 2019 before I left the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), what we need to do is to make sure that it is enforced, and I have been doing that, even at the Federal Executive Council meeting, they all know, we always fight for the patronage of local content.

On broadband plan, the Minister said they were working on 2019-2025 plan. He said he had directed NCC to start giving companies that provide broadband certain targets at certain point in time.

Speaking in critical infrastructure, Dr Pantami said they had received many observations from stakeholders which he has minuted proposal to NCC proposes executive order to be presented to the President seeking for telecoms facilities to be categorized under critical National infrastructure.