The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, has declared that three of the Commission’s regulatory instruments are set to offer enabling provisions that will help the country in tackling security and insurgency; as well as to enhance spectrum availability to facilitate the deployment of Fifth Generation (5G) technology.
The three instruments, which were subjected to a public inquiry on Tuesday physically and virtually, include the Spectrum Trading Guidelines (STG), Registration of Telephone Subscribers Regulations, and the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Replacement Guidelines.
Speaking recently at a semi-virtual public inquiry, which on-site operation was conducted at the Commission’s Head Office in Abuja, Danbatta said the three regulatory instruments have been developed to address the challenges of the ever-evolving communications industry and to further strengthen the market structure.
He said the public inquiry was held in line with the Commission’s consultative approach in all its regulatory interventions, as the regulatory instruments being reviewed are vital to ensuring that the regulatory frameworks that pertain to SIM registration and replacement in the communications industry meet the demands of the digital age and also further enhance the flexibility of the spectrum trading regime.
The first instrument, the Registration of Telephone Subscribers Regulations, provides a regulatory framework for the registration of subscribers of communications services utilising subscription mediums. The second instrument, SIM Replacement Guidelines, provides guidance on the standards and procedure which Network Service Providers (NSPs) are expected to adhere to in the process of conducting a SIM Replacement, swap or upgrade.
Besides the instruments, two Business Rules that relate to SIM Registration and SIM Replacement, introduced by the Commission to further ensure that the process for SIM activation and Replacement is seamless and align with the national identity management policy. The third instrument, the Spectrum Trading Guidelines (STG), seeks to promote certainty and transparency by outlining the detailed procedure and conditions for spectrum trading in the Nigerian communications sector.
While underscoring that the availability of spectrum frequency is a necessary element in the deployment of the 5G technology in Nigeria, Danbatta said the recent approval of the 5G Deployment Plan by the Federal Government makes the STG review process expedient.
Danbatta said the public inquiry is a precursor to the Commission’s current drive towards ensuring that frequency spectrum is readily available to licensees through a rapid and effective process. Additionally, the EVC said that “in view of the resolve of the Federal Government to tackle insurgency and insecurity through citizen identity management, it has become necessary to ensure that the provisions of the Registration of Telephone Subscribers Regulations and SIM Replacement Guidelines are in alignment with the National Identity Policy for SIM Card Registration and related activities.”
According to him, the revision of both instruments is geared towards ensuring a more secure and robust process for the registration, activation, and replacement of SIMs. “It is, therefore, my expectation that the review will ensure a more robust framework for the registration of subscribers of communication services, improve the standards and procedures for SIM replacements and ensure effective and efficient utilisation of frequency spectrum in Nigeria,” the EVC said.
Speaking earlier, NCC’s Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, Adeleke Adewolu, said the draft of all the regulatory instruments had been published on the Commission's website and comments from all stakeholders have been received and reviewed. However, he noted that the public inquiry was meant to receive more comments from stakeholders, which would ensure that the final regulatory instruments will enhance the development of the industry.
At the event, which was well attended by the senior management staff of the Commission and virtually by other external stakeholders, presentations were made by the Commission on the inputs so far received from licensees and other stakeholders on each of the three regulatory instruments, highlighting issues for a further rethink by all stakeholders.
The stakeholders who participated in the event virtually were also provided the opportunity to make inputs, contribute freely to the discussions in a very frank and objective manner that elicited thoughtful discussions that will further enrich the quality of the regulatory instruments being developed for the growth of the sector and the national economy.