The Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, Tuesday said the commission would address the dwindling quality of service in the telecommunications sector using the internationally acceptable standards as set by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) parameters used in regulating telecommunications service delivering.
Fielding questions from journalists at the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) interactive session in Abuja yesterday, he said availability, accessibility and affordability of telecommunications services based on ITU standard would form the new parameters in driving network expansion to facilitate improvement in quality of service.
On the poor quality of service as being experienced by subscribers, Danbatta said: “NCC will take into cognizance, specified ITU parameters which I would like to call standards. This relates to quality of service and other parameters that generally regulate the telecoms service delivery so that quality of service is normally measured in terms of penetration rates, more often broadband penetration rates and internet penetration rates.”
While admitting that Nigeria is leading in Africa in terms of telephony penetration, the landscape, he said was still characterised with infrastructural deficit which no doubt comes with degradation of quality of service.
Danbatta said: “Now, the fact that we are leading, and if you translate the penetration rate that is normally provided in percentage into numbers, then you will find over 130 million Nigerians with access to GSM services and of course a very high number of subscribers comes with its challenges in terms of the degradation of quality of services.”
According to him, the more subscribers on a network, the more the telecoms services are stretched, adding that they are not stretched above the limit though, there is need for urgent measures to be put in place to avoid a situation where the country is today. “Something needs to be done urgently to address the quality of service through making sure that telecoms infrastructure is not vandalised.” he buttressed.
The executive vice-chairman said: “Through facilitating the Right of Way which is something that has to do with gaining access to sites and locations where we need to lay infrastructure like fibre cables, we also need to address the issue of multiple taxation at the federal, state and local government levels as telecoms providers are complaining about the rampart multiple taxations across the country.
“The second category is to prevail on operators to expand by way of having more infrastructure base to be able to address the high number of subscribers to those on their networks, and the way to do that is also by intervening by introducing subsidy to encourage the service providers to go into provision of telecoms infrastructure which is capital intensive.
He assured Nigerians that the 40 percent annual operation levy from NCC would deploy to drive the activities of USPF, adding that the available resources should be used to provide ICT services to both the underserved and un-served rural communities.
“So consciously speaking, the USPF is intended to address this and as the unwillingness of telecoms operators to go into areas, we have define this as rural areas that are underserved or un-served of telecommunications services so when you undertake projects like the School Knowledge Centres, it can be in such a places where people in the rural areas can go and learn one or two things about ICT to enable them do activities that are multifaceted.
“The USPF is there to undertake such rural projects and also to ensure that these projects are sustained even after take-off, in terms of making sure that the funds are provided for maintenance in tandem with the ITU charter, and also ensure that from time to time, more funds are provided which will facilitate the provision of these projects, but because we don’t want these initiatives to just die once the project takes off, NCC will make sure that the projects are sustained,” he said.