• Dig Once Policy comes into effect
The Federal Government is expected to finalise a counterpact funding for the final take off of Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) by third quarter, 2020.
According to the new National Broadband Plan (NBP 2020-2025), this process, which is to be overseen by the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC),and the already selected InfraCos, are expected to ensure the implementation of additional 38,000km metro fibre cable infrastructure nationwide in two phases.
In the first phase, the InfraCos will deploy fibre infrastructure to the underserved areas. The phase will see the deployment incentivized by granting counterpact upfront as areas are less viable commercially.
InfraCos are licensed by NCC to provide Layer 1 (dark fibre) services on commercial basis; focus on the deployment of metropolitan fibre, and provide transmission services, available at access points (Fibre to the Node or Neighbourhood – FTTN) to access seekers.
The Commission planned to license seven operators – one provider for each of the six geo-political zones, and one specifically for Lagos. Six operators have already been licensed, while the remaining one for the North Central, whose process had started, is expected to be announced anytime soon.
Those licensed already include MainOne for Lagos; Zinox Technology Limited for South East, and Brinks Integrated Solutions Limited for North East. Others are O’dua Infraco Resources Limited for South-West, Fleek Networks Limited for North-West, and Raeana Nigeria Limited for South-South zone.
In one of his interview with The Guardian, NCC’s Director of Public Affairs, Dr. Henry Nkemadu, had said that InfraCos would have access to the N65 billion subsidies over the next four-years.
He explained: “The InfraCo project will be financed yearly, and this is subject to the operators meeting the required milestones. We are not going to pay them to do the job, but we are going to give them money for jobs well done. We shall soon conclude the signing of the subsidy agreement; that process is currently on. The period to get Nigeria connected through the InfraCos is four years; so to access the N65 billon subsidy, we divided the milestones into one year each.”
Some of the milestones operators are expected to meet include that the InfraCo should have established the project; must have started digging metro fibre, pilling, cable installation. It must have brought in equipment and got all necessary approvals in the region of interest.
But the NBP informed that the second phase is expected to care of the remaining areas left in phase one, the underserved with funding based on milestones achieved and verified before payment is effected.
In this phase, NCC expects the deployment of 100Gbps backbone capacity connectivity to the 36 states of the Federation; deployment of Point of Access (PoA) at 10Gbps connectivity to the 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the country. There will also be the review of the existing InfraCo model and engage Tower Companies to terminate PoA to BTS where applicable.
In terms of impact, the FG expects the national fibre coverage to every LGAs including less commercially viable areas with increased fibre to tower and public venues. There should also be the elimination of duplicate investments, overlaps and achievement of Dig Once Policy.
With the Dig Once Policy, NCC is expected to develop a policy that will ensure that provision for ducts are incorporated in road signs. There will also be policy in place that will encourage state and local governments to build and provide for ducts along community roads.
This policy, according to the NBP, is expected to facilitate the delivery of broadband services to unserved and underserved areas.