NCC outlines open access broadband network plans for Nigeria

NCC outlines open access broadband network plans for Nigeria

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has published its draft plans for the rollout of its Next Generation Broadband Network (NGBN), including using 2.3Ghz spectrum for last mile access and encouraging broad industry cooperation and infrastructure sharing.

The consultation paper is the result of a series of meetings and forums and is a revised model outlining how the regulator intends to increase broadband penetration from its current 6.1 per cent level to five times that by 2017.

The report shows that while around 56 per cent of 774 local government areas (LGAs) do have fibre optic cables present, it does not mean it is accessible to the public or rival operators and wholesale providers.

“Notwithstanding recent progress, fibre deployment in the country has been plagued by myriad difficulties ranging from administrative procedures regarding rights of way permits, to poor urban and regional planning,” the paper said.

Challenges include multiple taxation, unplanned towns and cities, damage to fibre cables and poor infrastructure sharing.

The report emphasises that while extending the current backbone fibre network across the country is important, there needs to be cohesion amongst infrastructure companies to ensure there is no longer a “duplication” of fibre.

“Existing nationwide operators are vertically integrated with end to end service offerings riding on their own infrastructure,” it said. “There is also duplication of fibre infrastructure on some routes while there is lack of access to fibre infrastructure in other areas.”

Once an extensive fibre network is in place, the NCC believes it will be able use the 2.3Ghz spectrum frequency to reach last mile access by deploying wireless technology.

HumanIPO reported on Tuesday the NCC had announced its plans to auction off one 300Mhz license of the 2.3Ghz in January.

Ensuring further fibre rollout will be coordinated between all stakeholders, the NCC said it would consult to ensure “deployment phasing” and the creation of a “sustainable business model that benefits whole of the industry while achieving the objective of greater broadband penetration”.

The NCC also wants to move away from the current industry structure of “integrated operators offering end-to-end services and long distance operators offering wholesale services amongst others”.

Instead, the NCC wants to implement three tiered system made up of a ‘passive infrastructure layer’, ‘wholesale layer’ and ‘retail service providers (RSPs)’.

While the first layer will be responsible for the design and infrastructure building for fibre rollout, the wholesalers will manage terminal equipment, optic fibre electronics, routers and data centres.

The RSPs will then buy bandwidth from the wholesale operators and compete amongst themselves to provide “competitive and innovative services to end-users”.

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