The economic situation in the country has been unstable since the Buhari-led government and it appears that every sector is trying to be cautious. You will recall that Etisalat, now 9mobile was badly hit. David Venn, the Chief Executive Officer, Spectranet, a 4G LTE internet service provider has confirmed that the congestions experienced by subscribers will persist.
The major problem is with the stakeholder reluctance in sparing the funds needed to expand their network to provide subscribers with a quality service for both voice and data, due to capital. He told Nigeria CommunicationsWeek:
‘There won’t be an improvement in the network quality service for now as operators could not convince their shareholders to invest in network capacity because there is no strong business for such investment with the present data price. the present data floor in the industry encourages more people to use data services which are responsible for network congestion and revenue from the service does not encourage shareholders to expand capacity.’
Venn explained further that the only possible way is for the Nigerian Communications Commission to intervene by revisiting the data floor. He further blamed the negligence on the economic instability of the country. ‘In the last one year, it has been difficult for us to access dollar to import equipment for network expansion as well as adding capacity. The ones we are doing is from the equipment we imported before the new policy on FX, for big operators it has been very difficult for them to import equipment which has affected their efforts in adding capacity’.
The Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria(ALTON) has asked the NCC to readjust the laws that govern data floor price. According to him, it is much easier for larger operators to survive with the current data prices in an unstable economic situation, unlike smaller operators who are already on the verge of a collapse. ‘If data price is determined, it will encourage small operators in the sector. We need to look beyond public sentiment and emotions around it and revisit the issue for the growth of the industry’, he said.
The president of the organization, Olusola Teniola added further that stakeholders will only be interested in investing in the broadband infrastructure if they can have faith in the government to revisit the data price floor. ‘It is important that the industry sees government policies as one that creates an enabling environment for businesses to thrive so that investors can bring funds to invest for the development of the sector’
Apparently, the major hurdle appears to be from the government. Recall the 30% broadband target by the end of 2018? It turns out that only one year is left to achieve that feat.