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Nigerians Need for broadband internet services in 2012

Over one year after the landing of two additional undersea broadband cable networks – Main-One and Glo-One in the country, the penetration and cost of broadband internet services have remained hardly accessible. This is despite the fact that internet penetration in the country has catapaulted from 10 to 40 million content of the population in a few short years. The reason for the poor broadband penetration, is that although more capacity has landed at the country’s coastline, the infrastructure to take it into the hinterland is largely lacking. Industry watchers are of the view that government ought to display a sense of responsibility and pragmatism in this regard, by setting up the required infrastructure itself, or creating a policy atmosphere that encourages private sector players to invest in that area. This is because the benefits of pervasive broadband internet for national development are astounding and can create far reaching developmental shortcuts. Pervasive broadband internet service can deliver quality education, healthcare and employment opportunities and more to large masses of the population and improve their standards of living, within a very short time. It can also improve the effectiveness of governance, while reducing the costs and corruption in the system. In the health sector for instance, through tele-health services, a few specialist healthcare practitioners can deliver quality service to teeming patients in remote areas by electronic means, thereby improving on the volume and quality of healthcare services across the country. In the educational sector, internet access would make it possible for huge numbers of Nigerians employed and full time students, to obtain quality education through distance learning schemes, improving their value and rewards in the labour market. It would also make it possible for otherwise retired professionals, such as doctors, lawyers, teachers, journalists, accountants, among others to contribute to the growth of the economy, by working from their villages or other remote locations without having to suffer the discomfort and costs of commuting. It would also improve the quality of education in Nigerian universities and other tertiary institution, by encouraging co-operation and collaboration between Nigerian educational institutions and top rated foreign institutions. Quality and affordable internet access, would also give impetus to electronic commerce in Nigeria, especially as electronic payments schemes are beginning to take root here. Meanwhile, Omobola Johnson, Minister of Communication Technology, has promised to facilitate the development of ICT infrastructure in the country to increase the number of internet users in Nigeria to 70 million by 2015. Johnson, who disclosed her plans to bridge the internal digital divide in the country at a stakeholders forum held in Lagos, stressed that her Ministry would accelerate the roll-out of broadband infrastructure to increase broadband penetration from 6 percent to 12 percent by 2015. She emphasised that the ministry would promote and support initiatives that would increase the contribution of ICT from its current 3.5 percent to 5 percent of GDP by 2015,noting that the Indian ICT sector recognised globally, currently contributes 6 percent to the nation’s GDP. She added that the Ministry will promote software development and local software innovation by setting up ICT parks/digital havens, equipped with physical/ service infrastructure; proximity and access to skilled human capital and promoting investment in skills required to drive the industry. For now, internet consumers in Nigeria are still paying far more for broadband services than their counterparts in mature markets, putting it completely out of the reach of majority of the populace. Industry analysts say that out of over 40 million Nigerians already connected to the internet, only about 12 million, representing around 3 percent, have access to efficient broadband internet. This, according to them, is inspite of the falling prices of bandwidth capacity due to the growing number of undersea cables on the coastline. Industry estimates show that $2.24 billion (N336 billion) has been invested in deploying underwater cables expected to lower bandwidth cost and improve availability, but Nigerian internet users still complain about the slow and exasperating access to the information superhighway. Richard Hurst, senior analyst at Ovum says: “Demand for broadband services in emerging markets continues to be stifled by high prices. In some countries, broadband pricing was double or triple the price of an equivalent service in a more developed market. “In addition, lower GDP per capita in Nigeria, means that broadband is only available to the highest socio- economic groups.” Commenting on the state of broadband service delivery in Nigeria, Chima Onyekwere, chairman, Linkserve, pioneer ISP, said: “When we defined broadband four years ago, we said that broadband was anything from 128kbs. “Today, we can not define broadband in that manner. Broadband is actually 4 megabits (MEG) per second. Subscribe to NAIJA SOFTWARE CHEATS http://www.naijasoftwarecheats.com http://www.softwarecheats.blogspot.com Call +2347030722911 Therefore, I can confidently say that no telcos or ISP is delivering 4 MEG to any consumer in the market.” According to Onyekwere, telcos don’t have 4 MEG available to them, and it is an illusion to think that Nigerians are enjoying broadband in its true form. “But really, whether you look at Wikipedia or the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), or even International Telecommunications Union (ITU) definitions of broadband, they have increased the threshold of what can be regarded as broadband. “Thus, I can now define 256kbps which is commonly available today as a percentage of broadband. “Even though the internet on some dongle you can actually get 2MEG, the internet delivered to the consumer is usually between 64kbps to 128kbps”. Besides, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as of 2010 defines ‘Basic Broadband’ as data transmission speeds of at least 4 MEG per second, downstream (from the Internet to the user’s computer) and 1 Mbit/s upstream (from the user’s computer to the Internet). Guy Clarke, managing director, Vodacom Business Nigeria, believes that the absence of last mile connectivity infrastructure remains one of the fundamental reasons why the expected crash in the cost of services and improved service delivery remains wishful thinking. Funke Opeke, CEO, Main One Cable, totally agrees with Clarke. “We brought a big cable into the market and reduced the wholesale internet price points significantly. “What we find is that the infrastructure on ground to distribute is limited and in areas where national backbone network, metro fibre networks exist, it is controlled in a proprietary nature unlike an open access infrastructure where anybody can connect at a uniformly low price. “The prices for accepting such capacity are prohibitive and so it limits how close to the consumers we can get with the capacity we have brought into the region without building the networks ourselves”. Ovum recently studied broadband prices in 19 emerging markets, such as South Africa, Nigeria, and Colombia, to see what has changed from its last look in 2010. The study found that while prices in most markets fell compared to 2010, broadband continued to be beyond the reach of the vast majority of emerging market consumers. Ovum found that SA had the most expensive broadband tariffs of the 19 countries in its sample. Nigeria’s broadband tariffs were also among the most expensive in Ovum’s sample, and the country’s low GDP per capita meant that they were also some of the most unaffordable.

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