The primary regulator of the telecommunications industry, the Nigerian Communications Commission ("NCC") has published a draft of its proposed Type Approval Regulation, 2022 ("Draft Regulations"); and the draft Type Approval Business Rules ("Draft Business Rules") which seek to replace the extant Type Approval Regulations and Guidelines.
The Draft Regulations set out the requirements for the approval of communications equipment for connection to communications networks in Nigeria. The Draft Business Rules on the other hand, stipulate the procedure for the type approval process which providers of communications services and manufacturers or suppliers of communications equipment ("Equipment Holders") must comply with, to use or supply communications equipment in Nigeria.
Today's newsletter briefly highlights some of the major introductions contained in the Draft Regulations and the Draft Business Rules.
1.Introduction of Provisional Type Approval for Communication Prototypes
To encourage research and development, the Draft Regulations provide for provisional type approvals for communication prototypes for a period not exceeding 6 months. To apply for a provisional type approval, the applicant is required to submit documents that provide the NCC with information on the: a) purpose and duration of the test or research; b) geographic location of the test; c) units of the prototype to be tested and their technical details; and d) details of the proposed recipients of the prototype.
Where the applicant does not wish to apply for a final type approval after the expiration of the provisional type approval, the applicant is required to ensure that all deployed units of its prototype are withdrawn from Nigeria.
2. Application for a Type Approval Modification Certificate
The Draft Regulations require recipients of a type approval to apply for a type approval modification certificate where certain changes to a type approved communication equipment: a) may affect the equipment's compliance with applied standards to which it had already been tested and validated; or b) may affect a network interface or affect any essential requirements of the equipment in terms of safety, electromagnetic compatibility or radio frequency behaviour. A type approval modification certificate will also be required where the version of the software or firmware of the communication equipment has been changed in a way that affects its basic functionality and information recorded in the type approval register.
3. Introduction of a Device Management System
The Draft Regulations and the Draft Business Rules seek to introduce a Device Management System ("DMS") and the registration of communications equipment. Although the Draft Regulations and Draft Business Rules do not provide explicit information on the DMS, the DMS is a Central Equipment Identity Register that keeps records of devices (through their International Mobile Equipment Identifiers (IMEI)) and manages their access to mobile networks. It is expected that the introduction of the DMS will reduce phone theft and curb the illicit trade of mobile devices in the country.
4.Introduction of an Expiration Period for Type- Approval Applications
The Draft Business Rules now requires persons applying to the NCC for type approval to submit all requested application documents within sixty (60) days from the date of submission of its application. Where an applicant fails to comply with the above, its application will be deemed abandoned and the applicant will be required to submit a new application to the NCC.
5. Revocation of Type Approval
In addition to other reasons for the revocation of a type approval (as stated in the extant Type Approval regulations), the Draft Regulations permit the NCC to revoke a type approval where the type approval is obtained by fraud or misrepresentation; or where the communications equipment constitutes a threat to national security or public safety; or has a defect that has become known or which was reported to the NCC or any other competent authority. Upon revocation, the Equipment Holder is required to modify or dispose of all affected devices in the supply chain.
The introduction of the Draft Regulations and Draft Business Rules is commendable and in line with international best practices and current realities in the Nigerian technology and communication sector. In view of these, we recommend that all Equipment Holders familiarize themselves with potential developments which may arise upon release of the final version of the Draft Regulations and Draft Business Rules.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.