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NCC develops regulatory instruments for communication sector

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has commenced public inquiry on some draft telecom regulations and guidelines as part of its commitment to address challenges in the Country’s communication sector.

At the opening ceremony of the 3 consecutive days (August 9 – 11, 2022) Public Inquiry on five (5) Regulatory Instruments held on Tuesday in Abuja, the Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta noted that these key regulatory instruments have been developed to address the challenges of the dynamic and ever-evolving communications industry.

He also said that the public inquiry is in tandem with the Commission’s strategy of consulting its stakeholders in all its regulatory interventions.

Danbatta revealed that these instruments include, the type approval regulations, guidelines on short code operation in Nigeria, guidelines on short code operation in Nigeria, guidelines on technical specifications for the deployment of communications infrastructure, guidelines on advertisements and promotions, and consumer code of practice regulations.

He said,”It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to a Public Inquiry on five (5) key regulatory instruments that have been developed to address the challenges of the dynamic and ever-evolving Communications Industry. This Public Inquiry is also in tandem with the Commission’s strategy of consulting its stakeholders in all its regulatory interventions. The regulatory instruments being reviewed cut across all sectors/segments of the telecommunications industry. guidelines on technical specifications for the deployment of communications infrastructure.

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“The first instrument, the Type Approval Regulations, provide a framework for the approval of communications equipment for connection to communications networks in Nigeria, pursuant to sections 130 to 134 of the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003. It is pertinent to add that the Commission has also introduced Business Rules for Type Approval to address issues that cannot be catered for in the Regulations and ensure that the Type Approval process is seamless.  The second instrument, Guidelines on Short Code Operation in Nigeria, is intended to prescribe a standard of practice for providers of short code services and to provide a revised framework for the provision of these services and for the protection against misuse.

“The third instrument, being the Guidelines on Technical Specifications for the Deployment of Communications Infrastructure, provides standards to be adhered to by Communications services providers/operators, designers, fabricators and installers of Communications towers and laying of fibre optic cables towards ensuring environmental safety and sound engineering practices. The fourth instrument, is the Guidelines on Advertisements and Promotions, which provides minimum requirements and standards for promotional advertisements by licensed telecommunications operators in Nigeria. Finally, the fifth instrument, which is the Consumer Code of Practice Regulations, amongst other things, sets rules for consumer protection and prescribes the procedures to be followed by a Licensee in preparing approved consumer codes of practice, in accordance with section 106 of the Act.”

Danbatta stated that all (5) five regulatory instruments are existing instruments which are being amended to reflect current realities.
According to him, one of such realities is that with the deployment of 5G, it will become necessary for Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to invest heavily in communications infrastructure.

He also stressed that with the technological advancements anticipated in the coming years, it is expected that there will be a proliferation of devices in the industry.

“It is therefore essential for the Commission to ensure that the regulatory framework can accommodate such eventualities,” he said.

The EVC further disclosed that the NCC has been working assiduously to implement the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020 – 2025, the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020 – 2030, its Strategic Management Plan (SMP) 2020-2024 and its Strategic Vision Implementation Plan (SVIP) 2021 – 2025 and achieve its mandate.

According to him, this drive has culminated in the Broadband penetration in Nigeria increasing by 91.70 percent in the last four years.

“The country’s broadband penetration increased from 21.21 per cent in April 2017 to 40.66 per cent in April 2021. The Commission’s data show that in April 2021, 77,605,500 million Nigerians were connected to the Internet, up from 40,481,570 million in April 2017.

“The current broadband penetration as at June 2022 stands at 44.30% with more than eighty-four million internet subscriptions in the Country. While the Industry’s contributions to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has risen from 9.81% in Q4 2018 to 12.61% in Q4 2021. These strides are outcomes of the Commission’s regulatory management of the Industry as well as its focused implementation of policies and strategies of the Federal Government of Nigeria,” he explained.

Danbatta underscored the fact that the public inquiry, is a key element in the Commission’s consultative engagements as part of its rule-making process and a key ingredient of regulatory excellence.

Earlier, the Head, Telecoms Laws & Regulations, Legal & Regulatory Services Department, NCC, Ms. Helen Obi remarked that the public inquiry is an avenue that allows the Commission to incorporate the comments and suggestions of industry stakeholders, in the development of its regulatory instruments, adding that this process ensures that the regulatory instruments issued by the Commission are in line with the current realities in the industry.

According to her, in the last year, the Commission has held public inquiries on the registration of telephone subscribers regulations, the SIM Replacement Guidelines, Frequency Spectrum (Fees & Pricing, Etc.) Regulations, Annual Operating Levy Regulations, Guidelines on National Roaming, Guidelines on Colocation and Infrastructure Sharing and the Spectrum Trading Guidelines.

Ms. Obi stated that of all the instruments listed above, the Commission has published Guidelines on National Roaming 2021, Guidelines on Colocation and Infrastructure Sharing 2021, SIM Replacement Guidelines 2022, and the Spectrum Trading Guidelines 2022; whilst the Annual Operating Levy Regulations and the Registration of Telephone Subscribers Regulations have been forwarded to the Ministry of Justice for gazetting, whilst the Frequency Spectrum (Fees & Pricing, Etc.) Regulations is at the final stages of the review process.

“To build on the successes recorded last year in this regard, the Commission has decided to review five (5) regulatory instruments: Type Approval Regulations (as amended), Guidelines on Short Code Operation in Nigeria (as amended), Guidelines on Technical Specifications for the deployment of Communications Infrastructure (as amended), Guidelines on Advertisements and Promotions (as amended) and the Consumer Code of Practice Regulations (as amended).

“The draft of all the regulatory instruments Regulations have since been published on the Commission’s website and comments from external Stakeholders have been received and reviewed.

“The above notwithstanding, we hope to receive additional comments from external stakeholders, which would ensure that the final regulatory instruments are such that will guarantee the progressive development of the industry,” she said.

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