Broadband Internet service is what everyone in Nigeria needs, but only a handful of Nigerians can claim access to truly fast and reliable internet because the so-called big operators have locked up their infrastructure from smaller players, Nigeria CommunicationsWeek has learnt.
MainOne, Glo 1 and West African Cable System (WACS), all private submarine cable companies brought in a total of 9.54 Tb/s in addition to some 340 Gbit/s by the legacy Sat-3.
The arrival of these undersea cables was expected to push up internet speed and reduce cost but little has been achieved in terms of accessibility, availability and affordability.
The picture today show that internet connectivity is largely concentrated in the major commercial and political hubs: Lagos, Abuja and to some extent in Port Harcourt and Kano.
And because of poor infrastructure, most beneficial services of internet access like live video streaming and video-conferencing are not readily affordable.
The chunk of the blame has been heaped on to the big players in the telecom industry as they lock up infrastructure from smaller players to share, thereby denying the country the much expected gains of a national broadband penetration.
Ms. Funke Opeke, CEO of MainOne Cable noted that there would have been more broadband penetration to the hinterland if the owners of transmission infrastructure agreed to share at affordable cost.
She noted that it was not feasible for every operator to start building infrastructure when there already are facilities on ground to provide internet access across the country.
“There are enough transmission infrastructure available in the country, but locked up as proprietary by few dominant players in the industry. They are not readily made available at competitive pricing to distribute services to the consumers,” said Opeke.
Nigeria CommunicationsWeek gathered that there is also lack of policy framework for broadband infrastructure development while Nigeria’s notoriously unreliable power supply also serves to exacerbate the problems.
Elsewhere, the claims and counter charges by various government agencies each claiming the right to regulate the industry is hurting investment.
There is also the issue of problems of obtaining right of ways from local and state governments and multiple taxations.
Dr. Eugene Juwah, executive vice-chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) however said that is pushing for broadband plan and strategies with focus on penetration, accessibility and policies.
Nodding in agreement, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, chairman, Open Media Group, said there was need to formulate a broadband policy on broadband deployments in Nigeria.
Ndukwe who gazed in the crystal ball and foretold the looming revolution urged government to fashion the policy with the support of the private sector.
Mohammed Rudman, managing director, Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN), said availability of distributive channels of internet and making it accessible to ISPs is essential for the country to witness a broadband revolution.
Nigeria CommunicationsWeek gathered that the epileptic nature of internet service delivery is impacting adversely on all spheres of national economy.