By TOM CHIAHEMEN, Abuja –
Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, has explained that the ongoing laying of fibre optic cables and the deployment of other telecoms equipment by mobile network operators (MNOs) across Lagos and other states is entirely to expand their networks infrastructure across the country to provide more efficient services to the consumers.
Danbatta made this clarification on Thursday in response to insinuations being spread by some individuals through viral video, audio and textual contents on social media, where they wrongly claim that some ongoing digging/excavation activities and laying of fibre optic cables by MNOs in Lagos and in some other states are connected to 5G equipment deployments.
NCC’s Director, Public Affairs, Dr. Henry Nkemadu in a statement, quoted Danbatta as saying: “As we speak, any information suggesting or claiming that the equipment being deployed by the network operators are 5G equipment is purely misinformation deliberately orchestrated by individuals bent on creating ill-feelings in the industry.”
The EVC called on Nigerians to disregard such unfounded and ill-motivated information in its entirety regardless of whoever, no matter how highly-placed or lowly-placed, is making the insinuation.
“As the telecoms regulator, we enjoin Nigerians to get accurate information from us rather than relying on information emanating on social media by some individuals out of ignorance to misinform our people,” Danbatta said.
Setting the record straight, Danbatta said the ongoing digging and fibre optic cable laying by some operators are in accordance with agreements reached during meetings by the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami and Management of the NCC with the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) led by Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Executive Governor of Ekiti State in January 2020, during which the Forum gave its commitment to allow the network operators expand their networks by granting right of way (RoW) approvals for telecommunications infrastructure expansion, unhindered, across their states. This will significantly reduce drop calls and improve networks performance of the operating companies.
“The Governors’ Forum agreed to allow the telecoms operators to expand their networks by granting the telecoms operators necessary permits, which they had been having difficulties in getting before now. This will help them expand their networks for more effective service delivery to Nigerians. That is exactly what was or is ongoing in Lagos and in other states. It is to improve their networks infrastructure,” he said.
While emphasising that the earth-digging and cable laying activities by the operators has nothing to do with 5G deployment, the NCC boss stated that continuous network expansion is a requirement from the operators for efficient service delivery on their networks, as this helps to expand their network capacity and robustness.
Danbatta, however, re-emphasised that the Commission has not commenced any licensing process for 5G, saying what the Commission had carried out was a 5G trial for three months, during which it will be able to certify its safety to end users and guarantee its desirability for deployment in the economy.
“In line with our regulatory process with respect to technology-neutrality, type-approval and other regulations aimed at protecting the citizens and ensuring standards are complied with in the Nigerian telecoms industry, NCC ensures that adequate trial is conducted before a new technology is introduced. This is essentially to ensure public safety. This is a priority for us at NCC. Similar trials were carried out by NCC on earlier technologies that we use today, ranging from 2G, 3G and 4G,” Danbatta added.