• Sunday, June 16, 2024
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BusinessDay

Nigeria’s internet speed crawls behind global average as UK, Japan set world record

Internet speed (1)

An internet user in Nigeria accesses the internet on a mobile device at an average speed of 15.3-megabits per second (Mbps) which is two times below the worldwide average at 34.7Mbps in July, according to data from Hootsuite. The country’s fixed broadband speed is further down at 11.87Mbps.

To put it in context, with mobile internet speeds between 10Mbps and 15Mbps, a user can comfortably stream in high definition on IrokoTv, Netflix, Showmax, Apple TV, Hulu, and basically whatever streaming service the user decides to use. Game lovers would also experience relatively lag-free performance. But sharing among two people would be a problem. It also means downloading heavy files would not be easy.

In fact, a similar report from Cable, a UK-based price comparison website, found that it takes an average of over 7 hours (7.18) to download an HD movie of 5GB in Nigeria. The report placed Nigeria’s internet download speed at 176th of 207 countries measured globally.

But at the global average of 34Mbps – South Africa has an average 33.7Mbps – users would be able to stream any video in Ultra HD. However, if there are 5 people sharing the internet connection and they are simultaneously streaming or using other data-intensive resources, the speed would be awfully slow.

While Nigeria’s internet speed crawls behind the global average, engineers in the UK and Japan have developed new ways to modulate light before it is beamed down optical fibres, allowing for much wider bandwidths than usual. The engineers set the fastest speed in the world clocking at an eye-popping 178 terabits per second (Tb/s) – fast enough to download the entire Netflix library in under a second.

It is 17,800 times faster than the current fastest internet connections available to consumers – 10 Gb/s in parts of places like Japan, the US and New Zealand. Even NASA can’t compete, with its 400 Gb/s ESnet.

“While current state-of-the-art cloud data-centre interconnections are capable of transporting up to 35 terabits a second, we are working with new technologies that utilize more efficiently the existing infrastructure, making better use of optical fiber bandwidth and enabling a world record transmission rate of 178 terabits a second,” Lidia Galdino, lead researcher on the study said.

To be fair to Nigeria, at 15.3Mbps, the mobile internet connection speed for the average Nigerian has indeed grown by more than half from what it was in February. The Ookla’s Speedtest Global Index, which also ranked Nigeria at 15.76 in July, showed that the mobile internet download speed for the country in February was 7.53Mbps.

The connection speed in mobile networks depends, in particular, on the network technologies available in the area and the features of the user’s terminal device. The network technologies include a 4G network that enables a high-speed connection in suitable circumstances; 3G network used in a wider area but with much lower maximum speed; and the GSM which has the most extensive network but the data transfer speeds are very limited.

According to the Nigeria Communications Commissions (NCC), 2G network remained the most pervasive in Nigeria with 90 percent of the population connected to it in 2018. However, Jumia noted in a 2019 report that 3G network has gained ground with 44 percent of mobile subscribers in Nigeria using the technology while only 4 percent had 4G technology.

Nigeria is targeting a data download speeds of about 25Mbps in urban areas and 10Mbps in rural areas with effective coverage available to at least 90 percent of the population by 2025 at a price not more than N390 per 1GB of data (2 percent of median income or 1 percent of minimum wage). according to the National Broadband Plan 2020-2025.

The plan targets the full deployment of 4G LTE networks since the already existing 2G and 3G services are unable to achieve these kinds of download speeds with large populations.