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Undersea cables everywhere, no internet for Nigerians

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Many Nigerians are still without reliable, fast and affordable broadband internet services; as lack of carrier-neutral; “Right of Way” permits; frequent fibre cuts; and dearth of last mile infrastructure have all conspired to hinder the delivery of the critical resource, Nigeria CommunicationsWeek has learnt.

Today, it is much safer to say that Nigeria is swimming in an ocean of bandwidth with the avalanche of undersea cable systems, each with landing points on the shores of the country.

Unfortunately, all the submarine cables on the coast of the country are running at less than 20 percent capacity, meaning that most Nigerians are still without a drop of the roaring ocean.

There are cable infrastructures everywhere. They include: Main One, Glo, West African Cable System (WACS), South Atlantic 3/West Africa Submarine Cable (SAT-3/WASC) and ACE submarine cable system, among others.

But all these cable systems have had little impact as most Nigerians are still without access to cheaper internet services because lack of carrier-neutral or open access data centers, where everyone can get content.

Carrier-neutral data centers are not tied to any one service provider (telecommunications, ISP, or other), providing diversity and flexibility for the client seeking service.

Ms. Funke Opeke, chief executive officer, Main One Cable, argued in interview with DatacenterDynamics, that improving connectivity in Africa does not rest solely on laying fiber across the bottom of the ocean, but an orchestrated effort to get other critical infrastructure elements that are missing in the region.

The difficulties in obtaining ‘right of way’ also hinders the distribution of bandwidth- considered a major ingredient for telecommunications service delivery.

There are also the problems of frequent fibre cuts which affect the delivery services to potential subscribers at their domains.

Gbenga Adebayo, chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), 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 vandalism.

Nodding in agreement, Opeke, the challenges is gradually being ameliorated, as MainOne Cable has started building terrestrial networks, interconnection points, landing stations, and its flagship data center, MDXi, located in Lagos.


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