The Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) has called on Barrister Adebayo Shittu, the new Minister of Communication Technology to merge the two agencies of government responsible for regulating the telecoms and broadcasting industries.
Engineer Lanre Ajayi, President of ATCON asked the new Minister, who was sworn in last week by President Muhammadu Buhari to, “as a matter of urgency” merge the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and Nigeria Communications Commission(NCC) as one regulatory agency.
Ajayi says that the two regulatory agencies use the same technology for their operations, hence convergence of the agencies should be with immediate effect.
The ATCON President said this Friday at the 7th West Africa Convergence Conference 2015 (WACC 2015) organised by IT Edge in Lagos justifying that the regulatory convergence will advance the industry for the mutual benefits of all players.
Speaking on the theme, “Addressing Infrastructural Challenge in a Converged Market”, Ajayi adds that, “I think the Minister should focus on the theme of this forum, which is convergence, to ensure the speedy growth of the industry.”
According to Ajayi, “this particular event is coming at a very important time when we have a new Minister appointed three days ago. I want to believe that the Minister is looking up to us for an agenda and I believe this platform gives us an opportunity to set up an agenda for the Minister.’’
Ajayi says that, “we all technically agree that the industry has converged today. That is, you can do multiple things, make voice calls, browse on the Internet on one device.”
According to the ATCON chief, “but the question is why the administrative side of the industry not converging? Why do we have NCC regulating the telecoms and NBC regulating broadcasting, when the fact is that they all regulate one single technology.’’
“We need to emphasis on this and introduce convergence. We need to place it on the table of the honourable Minister that NCC and NBC are merged with immediate effect.”
Ajayi extends the argument when he drew the attention of attendees at WACC 2015 to the digital pay TV broadcasting rights obtained by telecom operator, MTN Nigeria, from broadcasting regulator NBC, which he described as ‘’distortion’’ of the system noting that such action “is capable of slowing down the growth of the industry‘’.
According to Ajayi, “In my own opinion, it should be condemned and the only way to mitigate against such action is to ensure immediate convergence of the two regulatory bodies.”
He advised those in the position of authority to have the interest of the nation at heart rather than personal interest.
“People should rise above personal interest. We should focus on national interest. It is my wish and hope that those two people heading those organization (NCC and NBC) would rise above personal interest and consider national interest by working together so that we have a single regulatory body in the industry.’’
Ajayi, who is a committee member of the National Broadband Plan says the multiple regulatory agencies also contribute to the snail-pace growth of the Broadband Action Plan 2013 -2018 of the Federal Government.
”The goal for the broadband plan is increasing the existing 6% broadband penetration in 2013 to 30% in the year 2018. But as I speak with you today from statistics that has been released between 2013 to 2015, we have only moved four steps from 6 – 10%. We can see the speed at which we are moving and the chances of achieving the 30% penetration by 2018 is very low”, Ajayi says.
”Some of the challenges that is making it difficult is the one have highlighted before. That is, lack of convergence and synergy in the industry”, according to the ATCON President.
In his submission Mr Ikechukwu Nnamani, the MD/CEO Medallion Communications Ltd., an Interconnect House, said that for convergence to happen there is need for a super infrastructure network.
Nnamani said that there was need to address the technical, the business model/culture and the regulatory challenges of convergence.
“Operators have to look at business from a cooperative perspective instead of competition perspective.
“The regulator should ensure that if an operator is issued a spectrum, such spectrum is actually used for what it was meant for”, according to the CEO of Medallion.