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NCC assures operators of wider access berth in new regulation strategy

Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said in a report issued by the commission’s Policy, Competition and Economic Analysis Department, titled: “An Overview of Provision of the Over-The- Top (OTT) Services’’ that telecommunications operators will enjoy wider access berth in its Over-The-Top (OTT) new regulation strategy.

The  Commission stated in the report that the insurance of guidelines on international Gateway Access and Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) for the Nigerian Telecommunication Industry is in line with one of the mandates of NCC of issuing communication licenses for the operation and provision of communication services. The report said it was the duty of the commission to determine the eligibility criteria and other general terms and conditions of licenses.

“It is the expectation of the commission that the networks of licensees operating under full Gateway and International Data Access (IDA) licenses may convey data, voice and video signals either in their natural forms or in digitised formats. “Operators of these gateways may also inter-work and exchange information by using appropriate protocol and signaling conversion devices.

“The IDA license is issued as a standalone license and is not to be tied to any specific transmission medium for the purpose of conveying out-bound or in-bound traffic hence grants automatic authorisation. The report further stated that while the license was meant to cover provision of VolP services, it did explicitly address the current challenges and threats pose by the growth and uptake of these services over the traditional telephone networks.

The commission in providing recommendations on the provision of OTT services across the country also stated that: “The commission should conduct a stakeholder forum on the provision of OTT services in Nigeria to determine if regulation is required for such services and its impact on the growth of Nigeria telecoms industry.

“Following the consultations, the commission should review its guidelines on the provision of International Gateway and Voice over Internet Service and also consider an appropriate Framework for Provision and Regulation for OTT services in the Nigerian Telecom market. “The commission must ensure that it does not stifle innovation since internet penetration is still evolving, access speeds are still low and there is limited coverage of high speed broadband in Nigeria.

“The commission should encourage network providers in Nigeria to innovate and explore more efficient business models that will enable them compete favourably with OTT service providers. “Network providers can also take advantage of the internet protocol technology in the design of their network upgrades,’’ it said.

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