Digital Switchover Will Enhance Telecoms Competition – Etisalat official

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The planned switchover from analogue to digital broadcasting by June 2015, will drive healthy competition in the telecoms industry and further boost telecoms contribution to national development.

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Director, Network Engineering of Etisalat, Mr. Temi Ogunbambi, who gave the information in Lagos recently, said the digital switchover, if achieved, would open up competition among telecoms operators who would be competing to get the 700MHz spectrum that would become available after the nationwide digital migration that is expected to kick off on June 17, 2015.

The 700 MHz spectrum is currently being used by the broadcasting industry for analogue television broadcasting on the ultra high frequency (UHF) channels, and will no longer be necessary for broadcasters after the switchover, due to the improved spectral efficiency of digital broadcasts.

Thus, all broadcasters will be required to move to new channels as part of the digital TV transition.

According to Ogunbambi, by the time these frequencies are freed up and made available to telecoms operators for voice and data communication, it would increase their capacities to offer more telecoms services and at the same time, offer them the opportunity to improve network quality, thereby increasing healthy competition among the operators. [eap_ad_1] He explained that telecoms have contributed immensely to the country’s gross domestic products GDP), and would contribute more by the time additional spectrum licenses are allotted to telecoms operators, after June 2015.

“In 1990, before the emergence of Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM), telecoms contribution to GDP was 3 per cent, but the figure rose to 8.5 per cent in 2012, following the emergence of GSM operations in 2001. The figure will definitely rise beyond 8.5 per cent, after the digital switchover in 2015,” Ogunbambi said.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the industry regulator, had promised Nigerians of increased spectrum after 2015, following the planned switchover from analogue to digital broadcasting. Although the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), the broadcasting regulator that is driving the digital switchover initiative has commenced the process of digital broadcasting through a pilot scheme rollout in Jos this year, there are fears from industry stakeholders that lack of funds meant to be released by the federal government may stall the nationwide rollout of the  project.

But telecoms operators are optimistic of the switchover plan, that it will raise the bar of competition in their industry as well as improved services across the country.

Chief Executive Officer of Etisalat, Mr. Matthew Willsher, said the company has done well in the area of voice and data communication, especially in the urban areas, and that the company is ready to drive rural network expansion, as part of its $300 million investment plan for Nigeria this year.

He said the telecoms industry supports various sectors of the economy like the entertainment industry and the banking industry and would continue to do so. Although he acknowledged that service quality has been poor across networks in recent times, but he insisted that Etisalat had always been leading the industry in offering best quality service for its close to 20 million subscribers, as adjudged by the NCC. (Thisday)

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