What NCC should do over licence or regulation of VOIP services (2)
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Was there a clamor before to licence data networks running on voice infrastructure? I am not aware of this. So why are we clamoring to licence a data network that wants to carry voice as an application?
This clamor to licence or regulate is based fundamentally on our understanding of technology. The internet revolution is still shaking out the way technology is used by humanity and voice technology as it was known is becoming a casualty of technology.
The way of the Future
Voice, while still a dominant application is gradually being supplanted by data. When we are building our national technology infrastructure today, the dominant consideration will not be to use it to carry voice traffic but to make it data ready as this is the way of the future.
So what should NCC do?
I believe NCC should acknowledge VOIP as a technology that holds a lot of promise in our quest to develop urgently our technology infrastructure. NCC should see it as a duty to ensure that operators who want to deploy VOIP do so for the ultimate benefit of the consumers.
This will allow operators to offer flat national calls without any trunk charges. The current telecommunication players should see it as a technology that allows them to deliver service to their customers at a cheaper price. And they should jump into the bandwagon and allow customers benefit from the technology or risk going the way of NITEL.
NCC should therefore draw up a guideline and a time frame to make VOIP available as a national infrastructure. It should then work with PTOs to make this possible in the shortest possible time.
Avoid Undue Regulation
However, if there is need to license additional PTOs to take advantage of this technology; this should be done without preventing present PTOs from freely using the technology. It will be counter productive for NCC to unduly regulate a technology it cannot control. I doubt if NCC has achieved anything when it tried to licence the WIFI technology.
By licensing FWAs on 3.5 GHz, NCC tried to remove those who were operating on the 2.4GHzand 5.8Ghz spectrum. This only achieved a stifling of the internet availability it was trying to achieve. Which FWA operator has given us mass oriented internet technology almost 3 years after their licensing? And what would happen to the operators when WIMAX comes? NCC is not supposed to licence technology like GSM,WIFI, WIMAX or VOIP.
It is scandalous that while technology like CDMA allows us to make cellular calls at =N6 per minute, we are thanking the GSM companies for reducing their call rates to =N20 per minute. NCC should never licence a technology.
This will allow operators to deploy such technologies like WIFI, WIMAX and VOIP as soon as it makes financial sense and the technology can be implemented within the frequency licence allocated to them.
By Collins Onuegbu
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