Telcos kick against NITDA’s regulations






Telecoms operators in the country have expressed dissatisfaction over recent regulations put in place by the National information Technology Development Agencies (NITDA), noting that the agency’s move to regulate communications was out of place.


The operators expressed worries that with the existence of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) as the telecoms regulator, NITDA would be adding to the problem of multiple regulations in the sector through its recent instruments.


The operators under the aegis of Association of License Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) in a letter to NCC, a copy of which was seen by our correspondent, called the attention of the commission to recent enactment of regulations, frameworks and guidelines by the NITDA, which border on communications matters within the regulatory purview of the NCC.


Specifically on framework and guidelines for Public Internet Access (PIA) 2019, the telcos said: “The framework sets out rules for the provision of Public Internet Access without regard to the powers of the Commission and extant competition considerations. We note the Framework empowers NITDA to license a Public Internet Access Provider (PIAP) which technically is a provider of data services and prescribes minimum quality of service for such providers. The key concern is that NITDA appears to be assuming the role of a parallel regulator for data services.”


The letter addressed to office of the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC further states that through its ‘Framework for Data Centre Facilities,’ NITDA had written telecom operators in July stating that it had commenced registration of data centre facilities in Nigeria and requested that they initiate the registration of their data centre facilities with the agency.

“According to NITDA, the registration is in furtherance of Presidential Executive Orders 003 and 005 on local content development. However, a careful review of the Orders does not reveal anything specific to the operation of data centres. Additionally, the promotion of local content in the industry which is the bedrock of NITDA’s position is not the Agency’s exclusive preserve, as the Commission is also well positioned to address same for the communications industry,” the operators said.


On the agency’s data protection regulation, the telcos said the rules governing the processing of data contains far-reaching provisions on personal data which includes communications identifiers such as IP address, IMEI number, IMSI number, SIM and Personal Identifiable Information, etc., as well as the procedure for procuring consent from mobile customers and the transfer of data outside Nigeria.


“By implication, it will appear that NITDA has assumed the role of a Data Protection Agency in Nigeria and its Regulation overrides the Commission’s existing provision on data processing in the industry.


“The foregoing developments bring to light the dreaded multiple regulation, which has been a reoccurring challenge for the industry. We recall with delight that the Commission successfully tackled the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) in the past, when the Agency attempted to regulate the infrastructure deployment in the industry without recourse to the Commission.


“It is our view that the current issue with NITDA requires urgent intervention by the Commission to safeguard the interest of market players and preserve the powers of the commission.


“Accordingly, and in a bid to avoid a situation where members are caught in the crossfire of multiple regulation, we respectfully request the Commission’s guidance on how to proceed with the NITDA on the aforementioned Frameworks and Regulation. This guidance will provide the much-needed clarity for the industry moving forward,” ALTON said in the letter signed by its Chairman, Engr Gbenga Adebayo.

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