As a fallout of the infrastructure sharing and co-location initiative by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for telecom companies to boost efficiency and save cost of operations in the country, telecom companies have saved about N252.8 billion from capital expenditure, which would have been used for building infrastructure as they roll out services.
Infrastructure sharing, which has been warmly embraced by telecom companies, especially in the global system for mobile communication (GSM) sector, has resulted in co-location of over 4,000 cell sites, and according to infrastructure service providers like Helios Towers, this amounts to billions of naira. Through information gathered, from reliable sources close to the infrastructure providers, showed that the current cost of a cell site is about $400,000, an increase of about 45 per cent as against what was obtainable in 2010.
It was gathered that the reduction in the cost of operation through infrastructure sharing has been responsible for the recent growth in network coverage and quality of service recorded in the past two years.
On the initiative which has helped to boost telecommunication in the country, Mr. Steven Evans, managing director and chief executive officer, Etisalat Nigeria, indicated that though telecom companies compete among themselves in delivering quality service, there is much need for infrastructure sharing in order to take services to the hinterland of the country. He advocated for co-operation among operators in this initiative as a way of advancing further in the delivery of quality service.
Similarly, Dr. Eugene Juwah, executive vice chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) called on telecom operators to take seriously the issue of infrastructure sharing, as it is practised in other advanced countries and that the Commission would ensure there is co-operation among telcos in that regard. “We have deliberated on key issues affecting telecom companies and we have set up favourable conditions for successful implementation of co-location and infrastructure sharing among operators,” Juwah noted.
It was gathered that the four GSM companies, MTN, Airtel, Glo and Etisalat have seen the initiative worthwhile and have in several stakeholders’ forum advocated for a thorough framework for it to thrive, in line with international best practices, and also as a measure in fostering development in rural telephony which suffered a major setback.
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