• Friday, June 21, 2024
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Outdated broadband speed threatens FG’s penetration plan

Outdated broadband speed threatens FG’s penetration plan

The Federal Government’s current minimum broadband speed of 1.5Mbps for basic broadband is outdated and threatens to disrupt the nations’ National Broadband Plan (NBP) which seeks to raise the level of broadband penetration in the country.

Broadband speed in Nigeria falls significantly short, when compared to other frontier economies – “National average broadband speed is now 4.7Mbps, up from 1.0Mbps in 2011”, according to, Omobola Johnson, Communications Technology Minister, in a recent interview.

However, that remains extremely slow in our connected, always-streaming age. The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently voted to raise the definition of broadband to a higher bar.

It said that broadband should now mean 25Mbps and higher – up from previous legally advertise speeds of 4Mbps and above.

Tony Ojobo, Director, Public Affairs, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), while addressing a group of journalists in Abuja recently, admitted that, “though, over 75 million Nigerians are currently connected to the internet, a deeper high-speed internet penetration, as currently being championed by the regulator, is required to propel better economic growth in Nigeria.”

Nigeria lags behind at number 10 position in Africa, with a broadband speed of 5.66Mbps, as at the time of this report. The top city in terms of available broadband speed in Nigeria is Abuja (7.45Mbps), followed by Ikeja (6.51Mbps) and Lagos (5.58Mbps).

With the growing demand for data and internet connectivity, we have seen a steady and healthy growth in both mobile and broadband businesses, surpassing all expectations.

Nigeria has moved from six percent, when the National Broadband Plan was launched, to about 10 percent broadband penetration today.

Read also: Nigeria records 89% drop in rail freight, passenger traffic in 55yrs

The Federal Government (FG) is targeting a 30 percent penetration by 2018 as part of its National Broadband Plan. By 2020, which is the target date for Nigeria’s long term economic development strategy, FMCT hopes that these figures will have jumped to 76 percent.

In 2014 telecoms service providers rolled out 38, 000km of fibre optic cables in their expansion across the country, compared to 68,000km and 57,000km in 2013 and 2012 respectively.

The FG has announced the winners of the first two out of seven Infrastructure Company (InfraCo) licenses within its broadband strategy. Additionally, it plans to privatise the Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited (NigComSat) within the next three years. The 2.6GHz spectrum auction which was suspended last year is now set to take place towards the end of Q1 2015.

For 2015, analysts expect the market to remain challenging and competitive, given the shifting focus of the customer’s lifestyles and use to the digital world.

However, in Africa, Kenya leads the chart with the fastest broadband speed of 7.92Mbps. At the other end of the broadband spectrum is Benin, where speeds are 1.08Mbps according to Global index for February 2015 by OOKLA.

On the global scale, Singapore (104.25Mbps) and Hong Kong, China (96.38Mbs) lead the way. The UK languishes with download speeds of 29.45Mbps, far below Europe’s surprise pace-setter Romania, which has almost double at 59.96Mbps, but is still ahead of the global average of 22.1Mbps.

 Available bandwidth in Nigeria today is currently estimated at 11 terabytes and based on industry information; broadband penetration today amounts to 10 percent – increasing by two percent in 2014.

According to Ovum’s Broadband Development Index, which tracks the take-up of high-speed fixed and mobile broadband services in 191 countries, within sub-Saharan Africa and only taking into account countries with more than three million people, the best performers of the index were South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Nigeria (Uganda and Nigeria joint fourth) respectively.

National broadband plans across emerging markets have become more comprehensive and focus on lowering costs.  According to the United Nations (UN) Broadband Commission, more than 130 countries now have national broadband or ICT plans – predicted to evolve to guide further investment in broadband and call for new regulatory incentives to reduce cost structures and further lower Internet prices for consumers.

A report from internet.org and browser maker Opera Software has highlighted the high cost of data as a major obstacle, particularly in emerging markets. The amount consumers spend on mobile data is still prohibitively high, especially when compared to their counterparts in developed countries.

“Consumers in developing markets spend 12 times the percentage of their per capita GDP, as against the consumers in the United Kingdom or United States,” according to reports by Internet.org and Opera.

“Broadband remains out of reach of average Nigerians because fibre needed to move bandwidth around is limited and mainly found in some cities and capitals”, said Lanre Ajayi, President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCOM).

“In places where fibre does not exist, they are mainly proprietary networks. The cost of accessing them is highly prohibitive and discriminatory,” he said in an interview with BusinessDay.

According to the Africa Development Index 2012/2013, for fixed broadband Internet, the lowest connection charge is Nigeria and Madagascar; the highest connection charge is $2,371.7 in Guinea.

Dan Ojabo