NCC under pressure to agree a 3G licence for Nigcomsat

The Nigerian House of Representatives continues to try and strong-arm the Nigerian regulator NCC into giving the state communications satellite project a 3G licence. Why does a satellite bandwidth seller want to be a service provider? Word in Nigeria has it that NIGCOMSAT’s business plan will not work without it having this licence which makes you wonder at the overall viability of the project.

The NCC had insisted that NIGCOMSAT must be registered as a private owned Company among other things, before the Commission will issue it a license, despite a resolution from the House of Representatives in November last year, giving the Commission a two-week ultimatum to do so.

The lawmakers and the NCC harmonized the differences on NIGCOMSAT last week at the Hearing Room 2 of the National Assembly during a public hearing on the matter, which lasted till late evening, after the representatives of the Ministries of Science and Technology and Communications, all testified.

The representatives who appeared during the hearing which also had the Speaker of the House Honourable Dimeji Bankole agreed with the Committees on Communication and Legislative Compliance that NIGCOMSAT, actually submitted its form to the NCC January 14, 2008, with details of all the requirements for 3G spectrum license.

Though the NCC boss, Ndukwe, earlier assured the Committee that ordinarily, an application form once received and requirements met, the issuance of license follows in a maximum of one month, he pleaded with the House not to push it into taking a decision that would backfire on the nation. Ndukwe's words: "We would do whatever it takes to comply with the instruction of the President and the House, however, the House should not force the NCC to do what would cause us problems in the international Community, because once a decision is taken and we are told who to give this license to we will not hesitate to do so." The Director General of NIGCOMSAT, Engineer Ahmed Rufai, while answering questions from members of the Committee, said "We have complied. As far as we are concerned we have complied with the requirements for a 3G license”.

We were asked (by NCC) to make a presentation and we did on December 7, 2008." A member of the Committee, Honourable Gbenga Oduwaye(Ogun PDP), after an exhaustive deliberation by all stakeholders, warned that the issue needed not drag any longer, as the NCC had not denied the NIGCOMSAT a license to offer telecommunication services in its downstream sector, while the Ministries of Science and Technology and Communications had not said anything to the contrary, deliberations on the matter be closed.

The chairman of the Committee, Honourable Jerry Manwe (PDP Taraba ), while ruling on the issues said it needed all documents filled in the NCC application form and details on when the spectrum license will be issued. It will be recalled that the House of Representatives had on Wednesday November 15, 2007 passed a resolution in the House calling on the NCC to issue a spectrum license toNIGCOMSAT.

The resolution was taken after an ad hoc Committee headed by Representative Leo Ogor(Delta PDP), turned in a damning report on the poor services of GSM service operators in the Country. The recommendation, had in part, also placed an embargo on the sales of SIM cards by MTN, GLO and other networks, until they improved their services.

In a bid to ensure that the Nigeria Communication Commission adheres strictly to guidelines set for the registration and issuance of licenses, the House of Representatives wants the Nigerian Communication Satellite, NIGCOMSAT, desirous of taking part in providing end-line telecommunication services to follow Due Process of getting the a approval.

Chairman of the House Committee on Communication Honourable Jerry Manwe confirmed that in as much as the NIGCOMSAT has recorded successes in the provision of satellite services, the organisation should not circumvent laid down rules and regulations in its bid to get a license from the NCC.

Manwe said the House gave his committee two weeks to report back on the inability of the NCC to comply with the resolution passed two months ago recommending that NiGCOMSAT be issued a license , he will not be stampeded to recommending sanctions against NCC, without finding out why the organisation had not complied. He said " we are still investigating and we invited the two bodies. But we are not going to jump into conclusions. If NIGCOMSAT wants an end-line service license, we have the NCC act and which was passed by the National Assembly.

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