The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has revealed that out of 756 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) licensed by the Commission, only 188 are active as of March 2022.
According to BMA sources, some of the reasons for the inactiveness of the ISP span from anti-competition issues; low internet access in the Northern region of Nigeria due to security challenges; challenges of Right of Way (RoW), and conclusion of standardisation with state governments; multiple taxations; among other things.
During the Telecoms Sector Sustainability Forum, organised by Business Remarks Limited in Lagos, stakeholders called on the NCC to create the enabling environment for ISPs to succeed.
Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), stated that the four major operators (MTN, Airtel, Glo and 9mobile) have taken over the business of ISPs in Nigeria.
Adebayo, who was represented by the head of operations, ALTON, Gbolahan Awonuga, said: “the major operators are doing wholesale and, while at the same time, doing retailing. This is affecting the smaller operators like the ISPs. If the big operators who are supposed to be doing wholesale are also doing retailing, what will happen to the smaller operators who are supposed to be doing the retail? This legislation is not working well for the smaller operators, and if we are not careful, the smaller operators will be thrown under the table.”
He further tasked the Commission to enforce strict regulation, citing that the environment is hostile to smaller operators.
“Out of more than 700 ISPs, who were given license to operate, we have about 188 active members. If the major operators are complaining that they cannot sustain their business anymore, how much more the smaller operators? Several ISPs are about to close their business if this issue is not resolved,” he added.
The chief operating officer of WTES Projects Ltd, Chidi Ajuzie, also commented and said the tier 1 ISPs have deep pockets, pointing out that they can take over the business of the tier2/3 ISPs.
The executive vice-chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, in response, said the Commission is working tirelessly to tackle the challenges that have scarred the operation of the ISPs in Nigeria, adding that “policies and regulations are being looked at the NCC to ensure that ISPs and other smaller players in the sector thrive.”