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Stakeholders worry over roadblocks to broadband penetration


Nigeria-Telecommunication-TowerNigerians will have to wait a little longer for affordable high-speed internet service otherwise known as broadband internet because there are still many roadblocks, people who should know told Nigeria CommunicationsWeek.Some of the challenges are: “Right of Way” permit; frequent fibre cuts; and dearth of last mile infrastructure.

Because of all these, bandwidth a major ingredient for telecommunications service delivery especially for data and video has been elusive to Nigerians due to high cost.

Even with abundant capacity of bandwidth brought by Glo 1, MainOne, Sat-3 and WACS Nigerians are still facing difficulty in experiencing high-speed internet service.

Mohammed Rudman, chairman, National IPV6 Council, said operators face difficulty in obtaining a ‘Right of Way’ permit.Rudman said that right of way which is a government permit to dig and lay fibre infrastructure for transmission of bandwidth and likes is too expensive.

He decried the current variations in the cost of bandwidth in the country where the commodity goes for $150 per megabyte at the country’s shore while the undersea cable operators sell to Tier 2 operators who are telcos and ISP at $300 who in turn sell to distributors for between $1000 and $2000 per megabyte.

According to him, broadband is still at rooftops because of frequent fibre cuts due to sabotage and other projects such as road construction.
He said that local community issues serve to exacerbate the issue because of miscreants whose activities and demand on operators often times hinder access to cell sites to carry out repair works.

Anurag Garg, former managing director, Direct on PC, (now Direct On Data) attributed part of the challenge to access, he argued that a typical 3G base station can only deliver 7.2 Mbps and that telcos congest the few available 3G base stations with lots of subscribers which reduces the speed of the internet delivered to them.

He hoped that the situation will change as telcos upgrade to 4G which delivers up to 25Mbps per base station which give more access to data subscribers.

Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), the umbrella body of operators in the telecom space, said that granting multiple operational licenses to operators to provide metro and national fibre infrastructure does not guarantee investment in that regard, but implementation of well-articulated policies that will encourage operators to invest their money.

He said Government must go beyond granting of licenses to eliminating those barriers such as bottlenecks in securing ‘right of way’, impediments to smooth network operations- where operators are forced to pay levies that are not legalized, and vandalisation.

Adebayo, explained that broadband services are anchored on availability of bandwidth, and that with excess capacity of it at our shore, investment need to be encouraged to distribute this capacity to various geographical areas of the country for broadband revolution to be experienced as is the case with voice service.

He added that operators that secured licenses to roll out broadband services with big money are yet to invest in provision of infrastructure because of clumsy process of securing ‘right of way’ from various government agencies.

‘Right of way’ is a legal instrument allowing operators to deploy infrastructure on federal or state roads with a fee.

He added that unless these barriers are addressed it may be difficult for operators to invest in infrastructure that will enable provision of broadband.

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