Last year, Google launched its free Wi-Fi program in Nigeria to provide free public Wi-Fi across the country. While there are only two states in the country at the moment benefiting from this initiative, the search giant, of course, Google is planning to extend its reach to other states.
The program which is supposed to benefit 10 million Nigerians, including Internet Service Providers (ISPs), has now been reviewed as illegal by the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC).
According to the report, NCC has accused Google of evading regulatory oversight in the expansion of Google Station across Nigeria. The regulatory body has reportedly called the attention of the Federal Government in a letter to the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC).
The report further said; Google has been operating in Nigeria without being licensed by the Commission with the implications that it does not pay applicable fees, levies and taxes that are paid by ISPs in the telecommunications sector and also have been dealing with companies illegally providing SMS services.
There are several other irregularities in the structure under which the search giant presently provides its free public Wi-Fi for which the Commission requested it to provide information that will clarify certain issues that have cropped up in the course of trying to streamline its usage of Short Message Service (SMS) for user authentication.
I assume we all are aware that Google has been under inspection over privacy issues these past few months, the way it handles the user data collected through its Android mobile operating system, an array of applications and more recently it’s free’ Wi-Fi.
Should NCC succeed in licensing Google Station, however, it could serve as an avenue for revenue generation for the government agency as well as protecting local players.