There are strong indications that Nigerians may soon begin to experience poor internet connectivity in the coming days, owing to the inability of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to renew their expired licenses.
About 17 ISPs with expired licenses, due for renewal since February this year have failed to do so. The affected companies are supposedly lacking the financial capacity needed to fulfill this obligation to the Nigerian Communications Commission.
In total, there are currently about 39 expired or almost expired ISP licenses in Nigeria, according to the NCC.
Investigations by Punch Newspaper revealed that most of the affected companies are yet to approach the NCC regarding their renewals.
The investigations further revealed that some of the companies with expired licenses as at February this year include: Adiv Networks and ACC Broadcast Multimedia. The following companies’ licenses will also be expiring soonest- Telcoworks Connect Limited, VPS Technologies, and Internet Solutions Nigeria, etc.
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An insider at the NCC, who spoke to Punch Newspaper on conditions of anonymity, said that the average individual license category costs half a million naira. Bearing this in mind, therefore, possibilities abound that the NCC will definitely impose sanctions on the defaulting ISPs for their failure to make their payments which run into millions of naira.
Individual licence category costs ₦500,000 for a period of five years and the failure of 39 ISPs to remit ₦19.5m to the NCC will call for regulatory sanctions, which may lead to the grounding of their operations. -Source
Why this poses a threat to Nigerians and Nigerian businesses
The possible sanctions/grounding of the operations of the defaulting ISPs will most definitely affect them. But in addition, millions of Nigerians and businesses will also be impacted negatively. This is because many Nigerians and businesses depend on the ISPs for their daily internet connections; which are by the way indispensable.
In other words, internet connectivity in Nigeria, which is bad on a normal day, will become worse in the event that the NCC impose sanctions on ISPs over their inability to renew licenses.
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Also, the likelihood of the affected companies losing their customers abounds. This is because said customers may likely seek alternatives; as they have to be online by all means.
Meanwhile, a harsh economic environment is affecting ISPs…
According to the CEO of one of the affected companies, a harsh business environment and unhealthy competitions from big operators are some of the factors affecting ISPs in the country. According to them, “as entrepreneurs, once a particular enterprise fails to yield income, the best thing is to branch out to other ventures.”
Confirming this situation, Ms. Funlola Akiode, who is the Director of Licensing and Authorisation at NCC, said that the challenges facing ISPs in Nigeria pose as a major source of worry. According to her, “active ISPs in the country are not coming up for license renewal because of their poor ability to compete with the ‘Big Four’.”
Note that many Nigerian businesses (particularly those in the e-commerce sector) depend on constant internet connectivity for their daily operations. It is, therefore, important that the regulator and the affected companies figure out a way to sort the problem.