Nigeria’s internet access market characterised by the slow and exasperating access to the cyberspace will soon become a thing of the past as President Goodluck Jonathan, weekend, asked the ministry of communications technology to immediately commence implementation of a new national broadband policy for the country. Industry analysts have expressed optimism that the new broadband policy will encourage infrastructure sharing and open up the broadband infrastructure market to foreign and local investors.
The policy, according to them, would also facilitate the aggressive build out of requisite distribution and lastmile infrastructure needed to move available bandwidth capacity from undersea cables across the length and breadth of the country. The approval of the new broadband policy has rekindled hope that the generality of the Nigerian populace will have access to efficient and reasonably priced broadband Internet service by 2018. The policy however is capable of creating high speed communication network that connects end users at a data transfer speed greater than 256 kilobits per second.
Speaking after receiving the report of the Presidential Committee on a National Broadband Strategy and Roadmap at the PresidenVilla, Abuja, Jonathan said expressed confidence that the successful implementation of the National Broadband Strategy and Roadmap with a target of 80 percent nationwide Internet coverage by 2018, will help to positively revolutionise communications in Nigeria. The policy has drawn out immediate strategic action plan, including transparent cost based price caps, secured a 4-year row waver agreement, as well as mandates the pre-installation of ducts when constructing new roads and buildings.
Others include the production of a GIS-based national fibre infrastructure map and introduction of low cost wireless and satellite solution to hard to reach areas. The report was jointly presented to him by the Minister of Communications Technology, Omobola Johnson, in the presence of the co-chairmen of the committee, Ernest Ndukwe and Jim Ovia. The committee said it is expected that in the 2013-2018 implementation period a five-fold increase in Internet and broadband penetration will be achieved in the country.
“It is also intended that all state capitals and urban cities will have metro-fibre infrastructure installed within the period”. The new broadband policy envisaged Internet experience where the user can at the moment access the most demanding content in real time at a maximum speed of 1.5 MIT/S, with strong potentials for upward movement. Under the new policy, government is expected to special protection for critical national Information Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure, promote transparency of pricing and reduction of build out costs through price caps where necessary.
The new policy also envisaged rapid roll out of wireless and wire-line infrastructure as well as provide incentives to encourage a national 3G wireless to at least 80 percent of the Nigerian population by 2018. The policy will ensure a timely release of more frequency spectrum for broadband services especially for LTE (Long Term Evolution), foster attractive investment climate by targeting schemes for stimulating demand and providing targeted concessions, tax incentives and grants to infrastructure builders.
Jonathan said that he wholly subscribed to the committee’s view that broadband is to the 21st century information age what electricity was to the industrial age and would, therefore, give the fullest possible support to the effort to ensure that Nigeria is wholly integrated into the global digital communications network.