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FG says providing TV space spectrum to underserved areas key to digital economy

Dr Isa Pantami
Dr Isa Pantami

By Jessica Dogo

The Federal Government says its planned deployment of Television White Space (TVWS) spectrum to unserved and underserved areas is key to the nation’s digital Economy.

Dr Isa Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, said this at the presentation of the Draft Guidelines on the use of Television White Space in Nigeria on Tuesday in Abuja.

Pantami noted that the world was about digital economy, hence the need to provide broadband to unserved and underserved areas.

“The whole world is about digital economy; it is because of this we discovered that you cannot promote digital economy without broadband for our unserved and underserved areas.

“The earlier we reach out to them by providing broadband the better for the digital economy.

“That is why both the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) are working to ensure we can use TV white space spectrum for broadband in unserved and underserved areas.

“So this is key to digital economy. Firstly they are working on developmental regulations, secondly, solid infrastructure and that is all about broadband,” he said.

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The minister, however, said that NCC had a mandate of Broadband penetration in Nigeria and TV White Space being used today was broadband to penetrate unserved and the underserved areas in the country.

“So it is because of this that the National Frequency Management Council (NFMC) charged both of them to work together to come up with a guideline for the TVWS in order to provide broadband to unserved and underserved areas, which is key to the digital Economy,” Pantami said.

He said that with the way digital technology was elvoving the regulator had no time to sleep, adding, “technology comes with new challenges, therefore, the regulator must sit up and be up and doing.

Gov. Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna state, speaking at the event, said that the state was working on strategic partnership with Private Sector to improve broadband access to government schools, hospitals and private investments.

El-Rufai,represented by the Special Adviser on Inter-Governmental Affairs, Hadiza Mu’az, said, “Kaduna State is actively looking for partnerships.

“We are looking for strategic partnership with the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy to see how we can improve on that.

“We want to leverage on the potential in the agencies under the ministry and the opportunities that it might present to Kaduna state,” El-Rufai said.

Earlier, the Executive Vice-Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, said the event was convened by the Commission in collaboration with the NBC for stakeholders to brainstorm on the draft Guidelines on the deployment of the TVWS technology in Nigeria.

Danbatta said that the Commission remained resolute in the effort to bridge the digital divide between strata of the Nigerian society.

He said the NCC had evolved initiatives to promote connectivity to the rural areas through the collaboration with NBC to explore the use of TVWS in the sub 1 GHz band for rural broadband connectivity while exploring the possibility of licensing of the TVWS Spectrum.

The EVC recalled that in March 2019, similar event was convened for relevant stakeholders to brainstorm and generate inputs towards developing draft regulatory framework for use of this technology.

He said that it was also designed at bridging the digital divide between the haves and have nots in various communities.

“Today, the Commission is pleased to inform you that a draft of the Regulatory framework has been concluded and consultation to you.

“The “TV white space also know as “Super WiFi” refers to unused TV channels in any given area.

“With a Rural Connect radio, these vacant channels can be converted into wireless broadband internet.

“This innovation technology has the ability to connect our world’s unconnected people,” the EVC said.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the main aim of the gathering is to further listen, collect comments and feedbacks on the draft document toward its eventual finalisation and operationalisation. (NAN)

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