Nigeria ‘about to license’ open-access wholesale operators

Nigeria ‘about to license’ open-access wholesale operators

Nigeria’s telecoms regulator is ready to announce the winners of licences for five regional open-access wholesale fibre projects.

The licences will be in addition to two licences already issued, to MainOne for the area around Lagos zone and to IConnect, a subsidiary of IHS, for the north-central zone.

Umar Danbatta, executive vice chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), said this week that the regulator had received 60 submissions for the five infraco – infrastructure company – licences.

“This is a massive number and we are about to complete the processes of the licensing of the remaining five infracos very soon,” Danbatta told journalists in Lagos. “And I am talking about July. We will come out with the information about the successful bidders,” he said, according to the Guardian newspaper of Nigeria.

The licensing process follows the NCC’s publication in September 2016 of its policy for open access next generation fibre broadband networks.  

This invited proposals for metropolitan fibre infrastructure within the five regions on an open access, non-discriminatory, price-regulated basis. The NCC said that Nigeria’s federal government will “provide financial support in the form of subsidy which shall be competitively determined to facilitate rollout obligations”.

The regions to be licensed are north-east, north-west, south-south (sic), south-west and south-east zones.

Danbatta said that the NCC is happy about MainOne’s deployment of fibre around Lagos, but not about progress in the north-central zone. “We are not happy and action is being taken to ensure a remedial measure is put in place, in order to speed up deployment in the area.”

He said the NCC had decided the open access model was “an appropriate model” for Nigeria’s fibre backbone infrastructure “to bridge the current broadband gap and deliver fast, reliable broadband services to households and businesses”.

The licensees will be able to provide dark fibre to wholesale customers and to build fibre-to-the-node metropolitan fibre networks to operators.

Nigeria’s Guardian newspaper listed potential bidders for the licences as including Cyberspace, ipNX, nTel, Smile Communications, Spectranet, Swift, and Vodacom Business Nigeria.

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