LASG, NCC disagree on Unified Fibre Duct model

…Model is an hinderance to increased broadband penetration in Lagos — NCC, ALTON

By Ibiyemi Mathew

The Lagos state Government and the Nigerian Communications Commission have disagreed on the implementation of the Unified Fibre duct model being adopted by the state government.

Speaking at the 3rd Stakeholders conference organized by Lagos state Infrastructure Maintenance and Regulatory Agency (LASIMRA), Mr Adeleke Adewolu, NCC Commissioner for Stakeholder Management who was the keynote speaker stated that the state’s current approach has unwittingly created a monopoly situation which allows a single player to unilaterally fix prices and set access terms as it deems fit.

According to him, “This has shut out the licensed InfraCo for Lagos State under the NC’s national Open Access Fibre infrastructure programme which is being implemented as a key component of the NNBP for effective and competitive roll-out of fibre infrastructure.

“The telecoms market is highly competitive, with thin margins and long gestation periods for investments. As such, it is critical that suppliers of bottleneck infrastructure like ducts should be carefully regulated to avoid abuse of significant market power which happens when a sole provider is able to overprice access and set onerous conditions in the absence of competitive optios. This is negatively impacting on access to the ducts by licensed operators in Lagos,” he said.

Adewolu noted that, “The commission strongly recommends that Lagos state government reviews the Unified Ducts project to ensure more effective collaboration with the licensed InfraCo for Lagos and other established operators.”

According to him, “This will ensure effective and competitive rollout of infrastructure throughout the State on dig-once principles.”

Disputing this recommendation, the Deputy Governor of Lagos state, Dr Obafemi Hamzat who represented the Governor of Lagos state who is the Chief Host stated that the same model cannot work for every state as the one size fits all model will be counterproductive.

Hamzat stated that the challenge then is how states can make sure they operate well despite their uniqueness.

According to him, the Unified approach the state has adopted is based on experience with operators who damage government infrastructure. He advised the NCC to focus on broader issues such as the protection of critical government infrastructure.

He however reiterated the importance of partnerships in the realization of a digital economy.

Reacting, Mr Gbenga Adebayo, Chairman Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) said the idea of unified duct aims to reduce multiplicity of road set back digging and road crossings for telecom infrastructure build.

“The entire scheme is at variance with the open access policies of NCC and will impact on the national broadband policy plan, in Lagos.

“The none granting of ROW approval to willing operators creates a monopoly and does limit the timely implementation of that scheme.

“The mono provider is slow in the implementation (and the quality of work that is been done in the metropolis) is of concern.

“Further to that is that Lagos metro fibre provider has to submit itself to the regulatory authorities of LASIMRA and follow approved minimum of work,” Adebayo said.

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