NCC angers GSM operators with FWA licence plan

16 May 2005

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is preparing to face the wrath of the country’s four GSM operators by pushing ahead with a controversial unified licence scheme that will allow fixed wireless access (FWA) providers to compete head-to-head with mobile operators nationwide. Under the new proposals from February 2006 FWA providers will no longer be limited to coverage of specific geographic areas and instead be free to offer roaming services across the country. This means they will be operating in direct competition to the GSM cellcos, whose call charges are on average six-times higher. The GSM operators claim that the new legislation will discourage investment in the already under funded sector and further weaken an industry blighted by outdated facilities and high taxes. The NCC says that the move will increase take-up of services and has justified its plan by pointing to the 20-fold increase in GSM subscribers witnessed since competition was first introduced to the mobile market five years ago.