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Airtel’s CEO, Swaroop Advocates New Policy Direction for Broadband Service

By Emmanuel Otokhine
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Lagos, Nigeria; October 18th, 2011: The Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Airtel Nigeria, Rajan Swaroop has called on the Federal Government to issue a National Policy on Communications (NPC) that incorporates government's commitment and resolve towards the development of broadband in the country.

Speaking at the ongoing 3rd West African Information & Communications Technology Congress (WAFICT 2011) held at the Eko Hotel & Suites in Lagos, yesterday, Swaroop said the present National Policy on Telecommunication (NPT) issued in 2000, a pre-Broadband era, does not effectively capture the required framework that will boost broadband uptake and development in the country, and therefore, recommended a review of existing guidelines.

He explained that countries that have recorded monumental success in the area of broadband development and penetration started by initiating favourable policies accompanied by smart regulations.

Mr. Swaroop cited examples from countries such as Finland, Malaysia, Morocco, Sweden and the United States of America to buttress his point, arguing that strong regulations and right policies enabled successful penetration of broadband in those countries.

He referred to a similar policy in Finland, which declared Broadband a legal right in 2009, and entitled every person to have access to 1Mbps Internet Connectivity by 2010 while Malaysia had a singular policy goal to deliver a High Speed Broadband (HSBB) Network to cover major cities and towns in the first phase and boost Broadband household penetration to 50% by 2010.

The Airtel CEO, who hinted that his company is committed to partnering with Government to attain the next level of growth for Broadband, also outlined other strategies that can help develop the telecoms and broadband industry, including….

Swaroop also reiterated his earlier call for the declaration of Telecom Infrastructure as Critical National Infrastructure just as he canvassed for the discouragement of Multiple Taxes and Fees by States and Local Governments.

He also advocated for the pragmatic implementation of policy and regulatory convergence. In this instance, he called for a merger between the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), stating the future is in convergence and it is absolutely necessary for both organizations to come together.

The event, WAFICT 2011, will run till Thursday, October 20th, 2011. The opening session yesterday attracted several bigwigs in the telecoms sector including several captains of industry.