The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC has said it will embark on a consultation for National Mobile Roaming licence in Nigeria. This was contained in a consultation paper on National Mobile Roaming to announce its intention and procedures for the consultative forum. The Commission requested all stakeholders to send in their comments.
According to the Commission, the National Mobile Roaming is the “ability of a cellular customer to automatically make and receive voice calls, send and receive data, or access other services, including data services, when travelling outside the coverage area of the home network, via a visited network”.
The paper further states that, “such arrangements effectively multiply a carrier’s ability to cover those areas where they do not have the presence of their own network, without actually having to deploy infrastructure. Prior agreement between operators enables the subscribers to roam into another network in case the home network is not available. It is believed to be simpler and less costly to manage than active infrastructure sharing and may also ensure effective competition through a greater degree of uniformity among operators’ retail offerings”.
Some regulators encourage roaming as a form of infrastructure sharing in order to discourage investment which do not make business sense, so that the existing network can be maximally utilised. It is said that domestic roaming, as is the case with international roaming, can be realised at no significant extra cost.
In some countries, roaming is used to bolster newer and younger operators to help them connect their subscribers to other networks even when they do not have their own facilities. It is usually a response to policies or rules and regulations in order to facilitate the provision of services by new entrants until they have rolled out their networks to significant number of places. It also helps to avoid duplication of networks at less populated and remote areas, provide seamless service in areas where movement of people is significant such as highways, provide emergency communication when home network is not available or when the quality of service of the home network is relatively low, thereby benefiting both the operators and the subscribers
The consultation for mobile roaming licence is in tandem with the policy of the NCC to always seek industry stakeholders’ input into a policy document to ensure their buy-in.
The Commission said it has taken note of the expert opinion that the implementation of National Mobile Roaming could bring in the following benefits:
- Extra source of revenue for both mobile network operators.
- Less investment costs since infrastructure sharing divides the investment burden among the operators rather than being shouldered by a single operator.
- Promote efficient use of resources.
- Easy market entry.
- Better choice of service.
- Less negative environmental impact.
- Promote universal service provision.