Nigeria is moving slowly towards legalising VoIP. To ensure an effective implementation of its VoIP strategy, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) may be set to adopt a numbering plan for VoIP services in the country. This, inside sources at NCC say, is part of the recommendations of the committee it recently set up to design the framework for an effective implementation of VoIP in the country. Informed sources told Vanguard that the numbering plan strategy was one of the committee's radical recommendations which thrilled officials of the commission.

Other recommendations of the committee, which the NCC is ready to adopt include the liberalization of the VoIP services in the country. Another recommendation is that VoIP should be made part of the Universal Access policy of the government, since VoIP is easy to deploy in rural areas.

The committee which consisted of stakeholders in the telecommunications industry was chairmaned by Engr. Titi Omo-Ettu, a renown telecommunications consultant and CEO of Executive Cyberschuul.

The recommendation for a numbering plan, Vanguard was told, is to stimulate universal access and bring radical improvement to the telecommunications sector. It would ensure that even though there are numerous VoIP operators, calls coming from them can easily be traced and the NCC would have an effective tap on all the operators for effective monitoring and integrate into the global network.

Experts say it would also address the problem of call dumping which is prevalent amongst VoiP operators in Nigeria and abroad given that the identity of the service provider can be effectively traced with a numbering plan in place.

The issue of a complete deregulation of the VoiP sector, as recommended by the committee is informed by the reality that it is wrong to regulate technology. The committee was said to have reasoned that since government should not regulate technology, it should only regulate the services provided by operators and leave service providers to choose their technology.

To this end, the NCC may soon put in place guidelines, which operators must meet to set up VoiP call shops. Such guidelines will include quality of service, security of calls, pricing and many more.

The NCC was also said to have fully accepted that if VoiP be made part of the Universal Access policy of government, it would be easier to achieve based on the fact that the VoiP technology is easy and cheap to deploy.

Inside sources at the Commission also said it was impressed with the dispassionate approach of members of the committee in carrying out the assignment. When it was set up, part of the fears of its critics was that since VoiP services would compete with existing telecom networks, the members of the committee would not be dispassionate in addressing its work since many of them are service providers.

Having accepted much of the recommendations of the committee, the board of the NCC is expected to use it as a guide to set out guidelines for service provision in the VoiP sector in the few months ahead.