Broadband Penetration-NCC: credit: NCC

NCC Introduces National Roaming to enable Active Telecom Services

TECH DIGEST – The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, has introduced a better deal for mobile telephone users in the country to solve the problem of poor network coverage by service providers in some areas.

The NCC said it is addressing the issue through National Roaming.

The NCC has just released the National Roaming Guidelines which will help a customer of service provider A who moves to a location within the country where only the network of service provider B is available to automatically connect to the available service provider.

Hitherto, only those that travel out of the country have been benefitting from international roaming service, which allows them to make and receive calls on foreign networks through their sim cards.

Under the guidelines, NCC said “duly authorised service providers shall request and negotiate National Roaming Agreements with each other on bi-lateral and non-discriminatory terms, ” and the regulator has fixed the duration of any national roaming agreement between service providers at three years, renewable for another three years.

NCC said it issued the guideline in exercise of the powers conferred upon it by Section 70 of the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003 and other enabling powers.

The Commission said a roaming seeker requesting for National Roaming services shall forward a duly completed Roaming Request Form A contained under Schedule1 of these Guidelines to the Roaming Provider and the roaming provider shall within 15 days of receipt of the roaming request notify the roaming seeker of its acceptance by completing the relevant section of the Response to Roaming Request Form B contained under Schedule 1 of the Guidelines.

NCC pointed out that “Where the roaming seeker receives no response from the roaming provider within 15 days of its request, the roaming seeker shall immediately notify the commission in writing, and the commission shall take necessary steps to ensure the roaming provider responds to the roaming request.”

The guidelines provided some other safety nets to forestall undue corporate bully and arm-twisting among the service providers.

These are that:

  • Parties shall thereafter enter into a Non-Disclosure Agreement and commence negotiations of the terms of the National Roaming Agreement.
  • Parties shall conclude negotiations on the terms of the National Roaming Agreement and execute same within 60 days from receipt of the Roaming Request.
  • Parties shall ensure that the National Roaming Agreement is submitted to the Commission for review and approval, prior to registration, within 14 days of execution by parties.
  • If within 15 days from the date of submission the Commission does not act on the National Roaming Agreement, such shall be deemed approved and registered.

The release of the guidelines followed a successful trial carried out last year. As part of preparations to launch into the national roaming era, the NCC had last year approved a trial of the system for two mobile network operators, MTN and 9mobile.

With the approval, the two operators configured their networks for test and simulation for customer experience. The trial approval, according to the NCC, covered a few local governments, designated as the National Roaming geographic area in Ondo State.

Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) and CEO of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said the primary objective of the National Roaming Service trial was to encourage network resource sharing among operators. He said this would lead to operational expenditure (OPEX) optimisation and capital expenditure (CAPEX) efficiencies leading to freeing up of resources to expand mobile network coverage to unserved and underserved communities across the country, which will lead to improved Quality of Service (QoS) delivery to subscribers.