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COVID-19: Nigerians groan, operators feed fat

The COVID-19 outbreak is now travelling around the world, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.

But there is a silver lining for telecom services providers as data revenue has continued to surge as many workers and offices are forced to work mainly from homes.

Working from homes means spike in demand for data and revenue for the services providers.

And while telcos smile to the banks, Nigerians contend with persistent drop calls; and snail-speed data services.

As a matter of fact, the increased reliance on telecom services to conduct businesses has mercilessly exposed the deep fault-lines in Nigeria’s telecommunications space.

Operators blame lack of infrastructure, foreign exchange, power, and limitations in current spectrum allocated for the poor quality of service provisioning.

Olusola Teniola, president, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON). said the level of congestion on all networks is caused by limitations in current spectrum allocated which was configured for voice and basic data services such as SMS and narrowband internet.

“With the introduction of broadband services on the back of 3G/3.75G and 4G the bandwidth is not large enough to handle full multimedia sessions alongside voice and SMS services.

“So, a need for more bandwidth is paramount to avoid congestion and increase in equipment deployed to take full advantage at the Radio Access Nodes.

As long as FOREX issue is unresolved it means that the ability for our members to fix the problem is constrained by temporary engineering workarounds.

Oladipo Raji, group managing director, InfraFocus Technologies, attributed the poor network services to congestion of the network as a lot of people are accessing the network at the same time.

“This means that we don’t have adequate capacity on the network. Everywhere in the world there are always two networks mobile and fixed networks delivering mobile and fixed data services, but in Nigeria we have put the two networks together and into one operator through universal licensing regime where GSM operators deliver mobile and fixed data from one network hence the congestion.

“If we had encouraged ISPs to deliver fixed data at home and offices while GSM operators deliver mobile data we would not have been in this situation. It is time for NCC to correct this mistake and segregate the market by licensing ISPs to deliver internet to homes and offices by this, jobs will be created as well,” he said.

Myke Offili, general manager commercial, Coloplus, telecommunications collocation services provider, agreed that network congestion is responsible for the poor telecommunications services been experienced by subscribers as pressure is on the network at the same time. He stressed the need for operators to expand their network through making available additional spectrum to them in line with ATCON position.

He urged government to address the high cost of deploying network infrastructure as well intensify effort in educating the public on the impact of technology contrary to on-going misinformation about certain technology at the market place

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