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115 ISPs risk being declared illegal in Nigeria

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Fibre Internet
115 ISPs operating in Nigeria risk being declared illegal operators by the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) as their licenses come to an end.

According to a report by The Guardian, 115 ISPs operating in Nigeria risk being declared illegal operators by the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) as their licenses come to an end.

The licenses of around 24 other ISPs expired before the end of the 2014. The expired licenses of the 115 are expected to be renewed before the end of this year.

According to the report, Nigeria has about 184 ISPs. Licenses are issued, under the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003 (NCA 2003), for a period of five years. Another 22 ISPs will have to renew their licenses in 2016, 18 in 2017, 21 in 2018 and 20 in 2019.

The 184 ISPs operate in different parts of the country. Apart from the ISP licences that are to be renewed in 2016, three GSM operators will also need to renew their 15-year old licenses, namely MTN, Airtel and Mtel, the mobile arm of Nitel.

The report also revealed that the Director of Policy Competition and Economic Analysis at NCC, Josephine Amuwa stated the following: “In an advertorial, those 115 ISPs are reminded of their licensing obligations with respect to information pursuant of sections 64 to 66 of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003.” Amuwa added that the commission might be compelled to declare those who do not respond as illegal operators.

Allegedly, investigations revealed that most of the ISPs refused to be connected to the country’s Internet Exchange Point (IXP), which to a greater extent has continued to make Internet services costly and even as services continue to be erratic.

The Guardian revealed that a reliable source stated that: “Some ISPs in the country still depend on Internet hubs that are located outside the country, in places like the United States of America; Israel and some parts of Europe.”

According to the source, this means that Internet traffic from Nigeria goes directly to these foreign hubs, thereby causing serious capital flight in form of transit charges paid to foreign ISPs by some of their Nigerian counterparts.

According to findings, only 37 of the 184 IT service providers in Nigeria are currently connected to the IXPs. The country currently has three IXPs, situated in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja, with plans to commission two new ones in Kano and Enugu before the end of the year at the estimated cost of N35 million each.

Speaking on the issue to The Guardian, the President of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Lanre Ajayi said majority of the ISPs, especially the big players are connected to the exchange. He said that due to the vicissitudes of the business environment, larger percentages of them are no more in operation.

He said there was need for government to create a favourable environment for business growth, adding that it was important to woo investors into the economy, “especially now that the country plans to develop its broadband potential”

To Kehinde Aluko, a telecoms expert, the ISPs may continue to shun the local exchanges because of the country’s under-developed distribution networks, which include national long distance fibre, metro fibre and last mile connectivity, which constitute a huge challenge, especially because of the cost implications.

Staff Writer

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