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Nigerians swim in unreliable, expensive broadband internet



Nigerians swim in unreliable, expensive broadband internet – Many Nigerians are still without reliable and affordable broadband internet service despite the avalanche of undersea cable systems, each with landing points on the shores of the country.

This is as the Human Rights Council of the United Nations General Assembly recently declared access to the Internet a basic human right which enables individuals to “exercise their right to freedom of opinion and expression”.

The poor state of internet provisioning was captured by Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), which said that as little as 1GB of mobile data is too expensive for billions people across the world, with African countries especially expensive.

A4AI in its fifth annual Affordability Report said that as a result, there has been a serious slowdown in the rate at which people are coming online.

In Nigeria particularly, many factors are responsible for unreliable, slow and very expensive internet services despite the huge resources brought in by the undersea cable systems.

This includes the absence of “so-called” last mile infrastructure, which can distribute the bandwidth.Apart from the absence of last mile infrastructure, the obstacles confronting broadband penetration in Nigeria are legion.They include, lack of policy framework for broadband infrastructure development; Nigeria’s notoriously unreliable power supply; claim of right of ways by local and state governments; and multiple regulation and taxation.

Mohammed Rudman, managing director, Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria, recently said that broadband is still at rooftops because of frequent fibre cuts due to sabotage and other projects such as road construction.

Gbenga Adebayo, chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), the umbrella body of operators in the telecom space, said also said that government must go beyond granting of licenses to eliminating those barriers such as impediments to smooth network operations- where operators are forced to pay levies that are not legalized, and vandalisation.

Adebayo, explained that broadband services are anchored on availability of bandwidth, and that with excess capacity of it at our shore, investment need to be encouraged to distribute this capacity to various geographical areas of the country for broadband revolution to be experienced as is the case with voice service.

Nodding in agreement, A4AI said governments were not doing enough to ensure more people can afford internet connectivity more quickly.

“Despite increasing recognition of the critical relationship between online access and economic growth, the pace of policy change to drive internet prices down marked its slowest improvement to date, with policy scores increasing by just one per cent since last year,” said A4AI.

Haruna Magaji is a journalist, foreign policy expert and closet musician. He is a graduate of ABU Zaria and a member of the Nigerian union of journalists. JSA, as he is fondly called, resides in Suleja, Abuja. email him at - [email protected]

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