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Why Impediments To Nationwide Broadband Would Continue (2)

Until investors are able to take the services from their landing points in Lagos to different parts of the country where the services are needed, we will not utilize the available capacity

Isaiah Onwuanumba

As a continuation from last week, Broadband delivery to the ‘Last Mile’ or last end user would remain elusive in Nigeria in spite of 10 terabytes internet bandwidth capacity provided by undersea cables of Glo 1, Main One and South Atlantic 3(SAT3).

There is absence of protection of terrestrial cable infrastructure by state authorities, wilful damage to telecom cable infrastructure, vandalisation and high cost of procuring Right of Way(RoW) to install telecom cables and multiple taxation by several agencies of government constitute impediments to making internet capacity lying idle on our sea shores to end users.

As a result, it is cheaper to deliver a unit megabyte internet bandwidth from UK(United Kingdom) to Lagos than to deliver same amount from Lagos to Sokoto.

The challenges of ‘‘Last Mile’’ access will also remain with us for some time to come and it will continue to hinder access to Broadband services. ‘‘Until investors are able to take the services from their landing points in Lagos to different parts of the country where the services are needed, we will not utilize the available capacity.

Notwithstanding the size and number of fibre optic cables that have berth in our sea shores, there would be no true Broadband until the very man on the street is able to stream, watch video and do e-Commerce with his computer device. He added that the stage of Broadband in Nigeria today is where telecom was ten years ago. Government must not only computerise its process to improve Broadband uptake but also invest sufficiently in e-education if the nation wants to be competitive.

The United Nations has set ‘ambitious’ new targets for broadband uptake around the world. It calls on all countries to put in place broadband strategies by 2015. By that time it wants to see 50 per cent for people living in the developing countries like Nigeria online and 60 per cent of people in the developed world online, a press statement from International Telecommunications union(ITU) at its web site has said.

The world’s body also wants net access to be made available to 40 per cent of households in the developing world by 2015.

UN emphasised that broadband services must be ‘affordable’ and therefore cost less than 5 per cent of average monthly incomes. The four targets have been set by the UN’s broadband commission for digital development.

‘These targets are ambitious but achievable, given the political will and commitment on the part of governments, working in partnership with the private sector,’ said former Dr Hamadoun Toure, the secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

‘‘The ITU will be charged with measuring each country’s progress towards the targets, with an annual broadband report, ranking nations in terms of broadband policy, affordability

As a result Nigerian government now recognise the importance of broadband set up committee to effect internet penetration strategy. Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, said Federal Government set up a presidential committee on broadband to chart a broadband strategy for the nation.

She also said ‘‘the need for such a committee cannot be overlooked and informed by government’s recognition that ubiquitous internet capacity and a national backbone are critical to ICT infrastructure to deliver data traffic nationwide, cutting across power, transportation and water infrastructure, which are crucial for globally connected and increasingly knowledge-based world, nowadays.’’

According to her, universal access to broadband has become a significant indicator of development and competitiveness among nations, stressing that broadband has the potential of enabling entire new industries and introducing significant efficiencies into education delivery, health care provision, energy management, public safety, government cum citizen interaction and the overall organisation as well as dissemination of knowledge

Many Nigerians have died waiting for Government to deliver on its multiple committees. We hope this generation would not wait for a life time to see internet delivered to their doorstep. Broadband refers to band of telecommunications signal in which band of frequencies is available to transmit information.

Broadband is evolving digital technologies that provide consumers a signal-switch facility offering integrated access to voice, high speed data service, video- on-demand services, and interactive delivery services. Broadband is the term that is commonly associated with high-speed data transfer connections. Bandwidth or data transfer rate is the amount of data that can be carried from one point to another in a given time period (usually in second). It is expressed in bits (of data) per second (bps).

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