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Reps probe NBC, MTN, others over sale of bandwidth

The House of Representatives said it would investigate the process of Digital Broadcast switchover in the country, particularly the sale of bandwidth to MTN.The House is also to investigate the concession of the Graphic User Interface (GUI) value added services to InViewTech Ltd. of United Kingdom.

The resolution was sequel to a motion by Rep. Chris Azubogu (PDP-Anambra).

The house also resolved to ascertain whether the aggregation of the equipment which cost billions of naira to procure over 20 million “Set-up Boxes’’ were capable of meeting the digitisation deadline.

Moving the motion, Azubogu said that for the second time, Nigeria failed to meet the deadline for Digital Switch-Over (DSO) from analogue transmission to digital terrestrial transmission.

He said that the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), the regulator of broadcasting in Nigeria, was saddled with the responsibility to comply with the policy of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), which Nigeria is a member.

He claimed that in spite of the NBC being advised by the digitisation team to issue one “Signal Distribution Licence’’ in a strong and reliable technical company, it went ahead and issued three independent licences.

According to the legislator, as a result of this, there was confusion in the market.

He expressed worry “that the failure to consider telecommunications companies that have the needed critical infrastructure like Fibreoptic Network as key stakeholders in the process of issuance of DSO, should be looked into’’.

He said that the situation made the proposed solution to look inefficient and wasteful, considering the number of satellite dishes scattered in Jos, where the pilot scheme was launched by the Ministry of Information and Culture.

He maintained that the government paid billions of naira to private companies to import set-up boxes and Graphic User Interface (GUI) for over 20 million viewers in Nigeria butwere wasted.

According to him, the harvested bandwidth frequency spectrum freed up in the process of digitalization, was sold to MTN without recourse to due process thereby increasing the chances of creating a monopoly in the broadcast industry.

He expressed concern that “with the June 27, 2017 date for the switch-over being just 12 months from now, Nigeria would be required to procure over 20 million units of new boxes from China.

Azubogu said that there was urgent need for the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to be alive to its mandate of ascertaining the quality of the boxes that would be sold to Nigerians to ensure compliance with minimum standard and cost.

The motion was unanimously adopted by members through a voice vote and the matter was referred to the Committee on Telecommunications for further legislative action.


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