*Insists 5G network not operational in Nigeria
By Ralph Christopher
The Executive Vice-Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta at the weekend disclosed that the commission has remitted N362 billion to the Federal Government from 2015 to date, through spectrum fees and operating surplus.
He also denied speculation that 5G spectrum has been deployed in any part of the country, stressing that the Commission only granted approval for test-run of the facility, which has since been concluded and outcomes being analysed.
Speaking with Media Chiefs and Editors in Abuja over the weekend, Prof. Danbatta stated that MTN has fully paid the negotiated N330 billion of the N1.04 trillion fine slammed on the telecomm giant for refusing to de-activate 5.2 million pre-registered Subscriber Identification Modules (SIM) lines.
The NCC boss disclosed that on assumption of office in 2015, he gave priority to quality of Service, by constituting an Industry working Group (Short Codes and Multiple Taxation); Deployment of QoS on Spectrum Tools; Internet Service Providers and Collocation service Providers, which put the operators on their toes to improve quality services to consumers.
He added that: “To optimize the usage and benefit of spectrum, a number of initiatives such as spectrum trading, infrastructure trading, sharing, satellite infrastructure and and wireless infrastructure have been put in place to drive socio-economic development.
“For instance, the transfer of the spectrum licence of 2x 10MHz in the 900MHz E-GSM spectrum band from intercellular Nigeria to Airtel networks Limited amounted to the sum of N8.9 billion.
“The amount generated through that singular initiative has brought significant revenue to government”.
On the negotiated N330 billion fine to the MTN on October 20, 2015 for the infraction of NCC Telephone Subscribers Registration Regulations 2011, The AUTHORITY recalls that MTN began payment staggered with N30 billion 30 days from the date of the agreement dated June 10 2016. Subsequently, MTN paid N30 billion on March 31, 2017; N55 billion on March 31, 2018; N55 billion on December 31, 2018 and on March 31, it paid N55 billion. The balance and final tranche was paid on May 31, 2019.
Danbatta explained that the NCC has been promoting ICT Immovations and investment opportunities through empowering Nigerian youths in the development of locally-relevant technology solutions.
“The latest of such was the 2020 NCC Virtual Hackathon, where we gave N9 million in grant to three top promising tech startups for solutions aimed at addressing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and epidemic diseases in the thematic areas of health, community, productivity, economy and transportation,” he said.
He also harped on the negotiation with the Nigeria Governors Forum which led to a drastic reduction of Right of Way (RoW) charges across the country to N1 per linear meter, thereby impacting positively to cost reduction in the industry.
He added that “the NCC has continued to collaborate with the Central Bank and commercial banks in the area of National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS).
“Today, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) participate fully in the provision of mobile money services to help actulise the 80% Financial Inclusion target of the federal government by the end of 2020, through the issuance of USSD short code to banks and other financial institutions”.
He emphasized the achievements recorded in the introduction of DND 2442 Short Code, which has assisted to reduce unsolicited messages in the respective networks.
“We also issued directions on Data Roll-over and another on Forceful Subscription of Data Services and Value-added Services. The two directions have ensued effective protection of telecoms consumers,” he said.
He also said NCC has developed regulations on E-Waste, to ensure “that we are able to rid our environment of indiscriminate disposal of malfunctioning and disused gadgets, which are capable of posing health risks to consumers”.
In preventing call masking and call refilling in the bud, he said the commission is “working with the Office of the National Security Adviser to identify culprit licencees, sanction them accordingly and barred mobile number identified to have been involved in masked calling form their networks”.