Telecommunications operators in the country have assured their subscribers of reduction in the price of data if the current efforts of the Federal Government on Right of Way is sustained.
The operators said the recent declaration of telecoms infrastructure as critical national infrastructure would also aid the protection of their facilities and reduce spending on repairs.
Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, who gave this assurance on behalf of the operators, said a lot of factors had been contributing to the current price regime, which many Nigerians are complaining about.
These factors, he said, included high cost of bandwidth and high cost of Right of Way.
He, however, noted that with recent efforts of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, which have started yielding positive results, Nigerians would see a reduction in prices soon.
“We commend the honourable minister for his interventions, which have prompted some state governors to reduce Right of Way charges.
“Our members do not even have to pay for RoW in some states. This is a good development that will lead to a reduction in the cost of telecoms services soon,” Adebayo said.
He added that telcos were also now enjoying the first level of protection from the government following the recent declaration of telecoms infrastructure as critical national infrastructure, a feat which was also spearheaded by the minister.
Announcing the Federal Government’s position on telecoms infrastructure last month, Pantami had said that the security agencies in the country were thenceforth responsible for the protection of telecommunications infrastructure across the country. According to him, this followed the presidential approval of his request to that effect.
With the approval, he said the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Defence Headquarters (DHQ), Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Department of State Security Services (DSS) and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), had been notified of the President’s directive.
While declaring telecoms infrastructure as critical national infrastructure that must be protected, the minister noted that “the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has led to massive migration to digital platforms and has increased the level of importance of Critical National Infrastructure to the sustenance of our economy and the security of the nation.”
“I am delighted to inform stakeholders in the telecommunications industry that, His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, has approved and also directed that necessary physical protective measures be emplaced to safeguard telecommunications infrastructure deployed across the country. The Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Defence Headquarters (DHQ), Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Department of State Security Services (DSS), and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), have been notified of Mr. President’s directive. We are also working towards the reinforcement of these directives through appropriate regulatory instruments,” the minister had stated.
Meanwhile, the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) had also recently pledged its commitment to affordable telecommunications services.
President of ATCON, Mr. Olusola Teniola, who stated this, said the operators were determined to ensure that their services are cheaper and more affordable to the consumers.
Citing a recent report by Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), Teniola admitted that the cost of data was still high in Nigeria relative to the income of the people.
“Recent estimate suggests that 90 million Nigerians are still below the poverty line. These are Nigerians who can’t afford two dollars per day because they are not earning much. With this, the next challenge for the industry is to see how we can further reduce the cost of data and calls so that those Nigerians below the poverty line can also enjoy telecoms services,” the ATCON president said.
He noted that the government also needed to make the environment more attractive to private investors, stressing that if the environment is attractive, investors would help the country bridge the current infrastructure gap, which contributes to the high cost of services.