Paradigm Initiative, a leading outfit on digital rights and inclusion, has said that the widely publicised growth of broadband penetration is not a true reflection of the actual broadband penetration in the country, since the growth is mainly driven by mobile broadband, occasioned by the rising demand for smartphones across the country.
The Chief Executive of Paradigm Initiative, Mr. Gbenga Sesan, who made the remark in Lagos recently, stated that the federal government would need to step up efforts in making broadband access a priority among Nigerians. This he said could be achieved by making broadband available at reduced cost for all Nigerians.
According to Sesan, “With a reported broadband penetration of approximately 21 per cent, Nigeria seems to have met her National Broadband Plan target of reaching a fivefold increase in broadband penetration by the end of 2017, over the 2012 penetration rate of between 4-6 per cent.
“However, with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) putting fixed broadband penetration in Nigeria at 0.01 per cent, admittedly showed that the bulk of this broadband access has been through mobile broadband, which does not reflect the true broadband penetration level of a country.”
He noted that internet penetration in Nigeria is put at 47 per cent, according to the ITU, but according to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), there were just over 90 million active mobile internet subscriptions on GSM and CDMA networks as of April 2017.
Sesan explained that although Nigeriaâ€™s broadband plan envisaged that mobile broadband would be the most popular medium for the actualisation of the plan, perhaps it was overly optimistic in its plans for the rollout of Terrestrial wireless networks, Fibre, Cable, Digital Subscriber Lines and Satellite Networks, given Nigeriaâ€™s historic challenges with infrastructure development.
He argued: â€œSo the fixed broadband penetration is 0.01 per cent and infrastructural and policy challenges has limited the effectiveness of Nigeriaâ€™s only real claim to a national broadband network â€“ mainly 3G and lately 4G mobile broadband, resulting in service quality issues.â€
Insisting that broadband access in Nigeria is not broad enough, and not qualitative enough, compared to what is obtainable in other countries, Sesan said government must put the necessary infrastructure in place and ensure adequate implementation of the country’s broadband policy in order to boost actual fixed and mobile broadband penetration in the country.
He described broadband as internet experience at speeds higher than obtainable in dial-up services.
According to him, all over the world, broadband internet delivers the high-speed communications, which drive the rapid transfer of data for applications in media, healthcare, government services, education, among others. Broadband is now widely accepted to be an enabler of economic growth and development, according to a World Bank report finding that a that a 10 per cent increase in broadband penetration yields an additional 1.38 per cent increase in GDP growth for low to middle-income countries.
Sesan opined that Nigeriaâ€™s broadband plan, coming shortly after a decade of the deployment of mobile telephony in Nigeria, was a strategic document designed to accelerate development in the telecommunications sector and bring the developmental impact of broadband internet access to all Nigerians. He said such document must be well implemented to achieve rapid broadband penetration across the country.