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NCC to bridge digital divide in internet coverage

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), in its bid to bridge the digital divide in internet coverage in the country, has given Landing Right Permit approval to AVANTI Communications Group a UK based satellite firm, for the provision of commercial satellite communications services in Nigeria.

The Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. Umar Dambatta made this known during the official presentation of the certificate to the satellite company in Abuja, recently.Prof. Dambatta speaking through the Director of Spectrum Administration in the commission, Mr Austin Nwaulune who represented him, said that satellite communication is an alternative to broadband service delivery.

“Given the enormous opportunities offered by satellite communication as an alternative model to broadband service delivery, the commission has approved a Landing Right Permit for the HYLAS-4 satellite space segment over Nigerian territory.”According to the commission, “This Landing Permit is the first of its kind in satellite communications in Nigeria as a direct consequence of one of our operators employing the services of the satellite operator (AVANTI). AVANTI is the only operator that has invested in the installation of national gateways and data centres in Africa.”

AVANTI has a fleet of satellites and one of them which is called HYLAS-4, is used to extend coverage to West, Central and Sub-Saharan Africa, and it is this HYLAS-4 that has been deployed to extend coverage over Nigeria territory. This satellite uses the latest Ka-band satellite to and has additional capacity to the tune of 2GHz. This high capacity service has come to Nigeria through an International gateway that has been deployed by one of our local operator. With such high capacity facility in place and easily accessible, our local operators can now be more encouraged to deploy services via satellite to serve the underserved/unserved areas hence bridging the digital divide currently being experienced by the nation.” He stated

Speaking further he said, “one of the objectives of the 8-point agenda is increased broadband penetration especially to unserved/underserved areas. And that to this effect, the Commission has articulated several initiatives towards ensuring increased broadband penetration and connectivity amongst others such as Licensing of infrastructure companies (Infracos) to deepen broadband in the unserved and  underserved areas of the country, Review of roll-out-obligations of operators to cover rural areas, Approval of the deployment of different connectivity solutions, such as the use of 800 MHz spectrum for backhauling, as we as access and stimulation uptake of service in rural areas through bandwidth provision in schools and rural community centres, engagement of government at state levels to eliminate multiple taxation and the harmonization of right of way charges and also by encouragement of mobile network operators/LTE service providers to make subscribers more reliant on mobile/broadband networks to access the internet and most recently, development of the guidelines for commercial satellite communications for the telecom industry in Nigeria which came into effect on November 2018.”

Landing permit is an authorization that operators are required to obtain for their satellite to be allowed to beam its signal over territorial integrity of a country.

Ann Vandenbroucke, Director, Regulatory, AVANTI, said that, “AVANTI is extremely proud to be the first satellite company to be granted a landing permit and appreciated the commission’s regulatory excellence  transparency.

“We are extremely proud to be the first foreign satellite operator to to be granted Landing Permit in Nigeria. When I mentioned it to our CEO , he didn’t think for a second and he said I am going there but the board and the AGM stopped him from being here. On his behalf I am passing his appreciation for the regulatory excellence and transparency of the NCC in the process of awarding AVANTI as the first operator of Landing Permit

On AVANTI’s investment she said, “Avanti which started in 2010 has invested $2.6b in the satellite and Infrastructure and has built two gateway stations in Africa for quality service, one in Lagos and the other in South Africa in order to improve internet penetration in Africa”

She concluded by saying that, satellite will play a huge role in the deployment of 5G as it is environmental friendly and does not require digging of the ground to bury fibre.

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