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Lagos Unified Fibre Project to roll out in 2022, gulp N82b amid RoW charges concerns; mobile network operators sign lease commitments

The Lagos State Unified Duct Infrastructure Project (LASG-UDIP), which will see to the deployment of 6,000km fibre optic cables across the state, is expected to gulp about $100 million in each of the two phases

The Lagos Unified Duct Infrastructure Project (LASG-UDIP), which will see to the deployment of 6,000km fibre optic cables across the state, is expected to gulp about $100 million in each of the two phases. In a public private partnership (PPP), the concessionaire is expected to bear the entire cost, while the state government provides enabling environment.

The Guardian reports that the project, which is part of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s smart-city initiative, initially targeted May 2022 for completion of the first phase that will see the laying of 3,000km fibre optic cables across the state, but the project is now expected to be completed on or before February 2022.

Interestingly, some mobile network operators (MNOs) have started showing interest in the project with some 2,100km of fibre from the project already leased to them.

However, the state’s right of way (RoW) fees of N796/linear meter still remains a source of concern to telecommunications operators going by other levies and taxes they pay. Telcos claim they pay as much as 39 different taxes, which have in several ways impacted their operations.

A senior executive of one of the telecommunication firms, who doesn’t want his name in print, said a further downward review of the LASG RoW would do a lot to help service providers in the fibre optic segment of the industry.

He said the charge is not convenient for telecoms operators because it is over 500 per cent higher than the normal fees approved by the Federal Government, which is N145 per linear meter.

According to him, it means that under normal circumstance, Lagos residents should pay more for calls and data services because it cost operators more to deploy services in the state.

Findings show that the state government is partnering with two firms, Messrs Western Telecommunications and Engineering Services Metro Limited, to handle the project as concessionaires.

It was gathered that some contents of the agreement showed that the project partnership will last for an initial term of 25 years, which might later be extended, and the companies are to pay the state 10 per cent of the revenue generated from leasing the fibre ducts to telecoms operators.

The concessionaires are also required to provide the Lagos State government with fibre duct capacity to points of interest (POI) within the state.

The Lagos State Commissioner for Science and Technology, Hakeem Fahm, told The Guardian that the state is ahead of schedule, and the project will be completed by February 2022. Fahm said MTN has leased over 1,600km and connected over 334 base station sites to the unified fibre project, adding that another 400 sites are under ongoing connection to Lagos Unified Duct Infrastructure and are rapidly swapping out 3G radios for 4G radios to deepen broadband penetration and provide more efficient broadband services all over Lagos.

He said Airtel has also leased close to 500km in the first instance and negotiating to lease another 500km, while connecting over 300 of their base station sites to the Lagos Unified Duct Infrastructure project. He said the telecommunications firm is also swapping out 3G Radios for 4G Radios, adding that the other MNOs and ISPs are concluding negotiations with the connection of over 1,500km to the Unified Duct Infrastructure.

The Commissioner explained that the concessionaire will run the project on Open Access Model with uniform pricing model for all the local and international telecoms companies willing to lease the infrastructure when completed.

At less than 2 metres above sea level….

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