Benjamin Babine, Abuja
The Executive Vice Chairman of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof Umar Danbatta, has said Nigerians will enjoy the best data pricing when there is improved infrastructure and when rural areas are penetrated with good internet.
He explained that because people are increasingly using data services due to the COVID-19 pandemic, something needs to be done very fast to ensure that the deluge of data services people used at this time was not only available but affordable and accessible.
Dambatta disclosed this at a webinar on ‘Assessing the impact of COVID-19 on the Nigerian digital economy and post-pandemic strategies’ hosted by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group. The NCC boss explained that addressing the infrastructure in the sector, whether wireless or fibre, was critical.
Danbatta said, ‘Most of us are associated with the wireless infrastructure, which accounts for about 55 to 60 per cent of the total broadband network in this country. The fibre infrastructure is one that is not good enough because we have a little under 40,000 kilometres of this fixed infrastructure and what we need in this country is 120,000km of fibre infrastructure.
‘This is captured in the Next Level Document of the Federal Government. So, how do we raise the level of deployment of this fixed infrastructure reasonably from where we are, at about 27,000km of fibre to at least 60,000km or maybe even 80,000km of fibre? Therefore, a plan is needed. One is in place and what the NCC did was to grant infrastructure licences to six infrastructure companies.
‘From the undersea cable of MainOne to Glo-1 West African Submarine Cable and even the oldest undersea cable, we have a combined capacity that is not reaching the hinterlands and until and unless we can improve the network that bolsters this capacity and move it into the hinterland; every nook and cranny of this country, we will not be able to have the right kind of data prices. There would be no affordability in data services.’
The NCC boss described as encouraging the decision by some states to waive or reduce telecoms Right of Way in their domain, saying other states should emulate them so there could be increased internet penetration into the hinterland.