Nigeria – Unified Access Service Licence

In March 2006, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) formally introduced the Unified Access Service Licence (UASL).  The UASL covers a range of services, including:

  • Fixed telephony whether wired or wireless;
  • Digital mobile services;
  • International gateway services;
  • National long distance services; and
  • Regional long distance services.

The NCC has indicated that Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) and Private Network Links (PWL) licensees are permitted to provide mobile services in the UASL regime, subject to the frequency assignment and geographical limitations contained in the original licences.  Digital Mobile licensees are permitted to provide fixed and data services.  All Unified Access Service licensees are able to provide ISP services, Value-added services, and Payphone services.  The NCC has also clarified that international gateway services may be provided for the licensee itself or for third parties.

The UASL licence term is 10 years with an option for renewal for the same term.

Unified Access Service operations have been opened to competition, subject to the availability of spectrum resources.

The UASL is subject to a broad variety of terms and conditions.  (See the sample UASL, a link to which is set out below).  Of particular interest are the following terms and conditions (some of which apply specifically to existing licensees that have migrated to the UASL licensing regime):

  • Service area:  The service areas for existing licensees migrating to the UASL regime are the same as the service area in the original licence issued to the migrating licensee.
  • Network rollout requirements: The UASL is not subject to specific network rollout obligations.  The NCC opted to address universal access issues in a separate universal access regulation.
  • Numbering resources: The UASL entitles the licensee to obtain numbering resources from the NCC, including resources with a unique code number that serves as a routing designator to all calls terminating on the licensee’s network, where applicable.  However, licensees are required to conform to the numbering plan approved by the NCC and any directions given by the NCC in relation to the numbering plan, including directions related to number portability.
  • Interconnection: The Nigerian Communications Act, 2003 imposes an obligation to interconnect.  Therefore, there are no interconnection obligations contained in the terms and conditions of the UASL.
  • Radio spectrum: Matters relating to the use of the radio spectrum are addressed separately from the UASL.
  • Quality of Service: Licensees are required to adhere to the quality of service standard prescribed by the NCC.

Source:  Nigerian Communications Commission, “Licensing Framework for Unified Access Service in Nigeria”, online: www.ncc.gov.ng.

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