Following the successful bidding process for the 2.3GHz spectrum auction, where Bitflux emerged winner, the Executive Vice-Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Eugene Juwah, was given the privilege to address international audience at the Mobile World Congress in Spain last week.
Juwah was used the opportunity to showcase the potentials of Nigeriaâ€™s broadband programme.
The ministerial programme of the annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona is a section of the event where decisions makers, ministers, investors, service providers, global mobile providers among other top industry players meet to discuss common interest.
At this yearâ€™s programme, a session was dedicated to Nigeria and Juwah seized the opportunity to make a detailed presentation to the world about what to expect in Nigeria, which is at the threshold of unleashing a broadband revolution that will impact the Nigerian nation and the African continent.
â€œWe are going to fast track the nation to a knowledge economy and the contributions of broadband to GDP growth will increase considerably. We have successfully completed the auction of the 2.3GHz Spectrum and we have outlined a number of programmes under the broadband infrastructure framework while licensing of infrastructure providers, tagged Infracos is about to beginâ€, Juwah said
Juwah used the occasion to woo foreign investors with some incentives, in the Nigerian broadband infrastructure deployment programme.
The planned broadband rollout comes with the Open Access Broadband strategy with the planned licensing of InfraCos that will provide a national broadband network on a non-discriminatory, open access and price regulated basis to all service providers.
â€œWe are creating enabling environment and incentives for the private sector to roll out broadband networks which will be a one-off incentive for last mile to be achieved. We will replicate the success we made in voice in broadband plan as we proceed on the journey,â€ he said.
He added, â€œWe are also going to license more retail services and encourage the operators where possible to extend fibre to homes and businesses on their own. Government is committed to providing incentives to winners of infrastructure licenses.â€
According to him, InfraCo would enjoy government support, hence would be getting funding from government to rollout nationwide broadband infrastructure.
â€œWe are ready to provide subsidy to simplify entry. However, such subsidy will come on the basis of milestones achieved to ensure that we are realistic in the venture,â€ he said.
Speaking on the revolution of the voice telephony in Nigeria, Juwah said the nation would witness a boom the broadband segment of the business as was done in the voice segment.
The NCC boss said for Nigeria to be part of the 21st century knowledge economy, there was need to leverage on the potentials of broadband.
â€œWe have done quite well in the voice segment, but taking a look at the data segment, our internet penetration rate currently is 32.9 per cent, while our broadband penetration rate is 6.1 per cent,” he said, adding that taking it to a higher speed broadband will move penetration rate higher.
He gave an insight into the structure of the growth when he said broadband access in Nigeria would be adequately addressed through the establishment of the broadband networks in the metropolitan areas of Nigeria to facilitate the extension of capacities to the households and businesses.
The objective of the initiative, he affirmed is to stimulate a new national broadband network that is not only more widespread but also faster and more secure than what is available today, and to also offer efficient connectivity as well as ultra high-speed broadband services that is available, affordable and sustainable.
While the proposed industry structure offers InfraCos as entities that complement the existing industry players by focusing on the market gap and offering non-discriminatory open access wholesale bandwidth services to the industry players, he further explained that proposed structure allows existing players to operate with the option of leasing their inter-city and existing metropolitan fibre infrastructure to the InfraCos.
The model, according to him was also envisaged to address the challenges of congested and unplanned towns, the challenges around infrastructure sharing and other issues such as high cost of Right of Way.
Juwah, who is very optimistic of what broadband will do for Nigeria, said that it has the potential to stimulate business activities, providing support for other sectors of the economy as well as providing better living and governance.