Nigerians thirst for high-speed web amid bandwidth glut

Nigerians thirst for high-speed web amid bandwidth glut

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Ifeoma John, a authorized practitioner residing in Lagos, utilized for a driver’s licence from the Federal Street Security Fee (FRSC) two months in the past. It often takes a month after the applying to get the licence. However officers on the company have been telling her that their web community has been gradual for the previous 4 weeks.

She says it’s not solely the FRSC that’s going through the web community slowdown: a Tax Identification Quantity (TIN) software she filed with the Lagos Inland Income Service (LIRS) was delayed for 10 days as a result of identical drawback. An LIRS official she was coping with mentioned the company didn’t have a community for 10 days.

“He was in a position to generate the TIN for me after 10 days however he says the community retains going off and coming again,” John mentioned. For her driver’s licence, the FRSC gave her a bodily copy of the applying kind to make use of till web velocity was restored.

The Company Affairs Fee has additionally needed to delay firm registration actions for weeks this 12 months on account of community disruptions.

Bosun Tijani, minister of communications, innovation and digital financial system, throughout his speech at The Platform Nigeria, reiterated that seven subsea cables are mendacity on the shores of the nation. There have been six cables in 2021 earlier than Google’s Equiano cable landed in 2022 and elevated the tally.

Nigeria is among the many prime six African nations with the very best variety of subsea cables. The nation with probably the most variety of subsea cables on its shores is Egypt with 15 cables. South Africa and Djibouti share the second spot with 11 cables every; Nigeria is within the third place with seven cables; whereas Kenya and Cameroon share the fourth spot with six cables.

The cables in Nigeria embody Africa Coast to Europe (ACE), Equiano, Glo1, MainOne, Nigeria Cameroon Submarine Cable System (NCSCS; SAT-3/WASC), and WACS.

They arrive with completely different capacities, a few of which have been upgraded in recent times. For instance, WACS cable had an preliminary design capability of 5.12 Tbps however was later elevated to a design capability of 14.5 Tbps. The Glo1 cable system consists of two fibre pairs, with an preliminary design capability of 320 (32*STM-64), and upgraded to 2.5 Tbps. MainOne has a design capability of 4.96 Tbps. The ACE cable system is available in two fibre pairs, with an preliminary design capability of 5.12 Tbps. The Equiano cable has a capability of 18 Tbps.

For a greater perspective, there are 8 million megabytes and 1,000 gigabytes in 1 terabyte per second. An web velocity is measured in bits per second (bps). So, a 1 terabyte web velocity can be equal to 1,000,000,000,000bps. The quickest web speeds accessible as we speak are round 100 gigabits per second (Gbps).

Learn additionally: Starlink’s web velocity rattles competitors

To eat 1TB of knowledge in a month, the AT&T web information calculator exhibits {that a} person might want to ship and obtain 40,000 emails; stream 8,500 hours of music; surf the web for two,000 hours; recreation for 16,500 hours, stream high-def movies for 350 hours; and make 5,600 social media posts with pictures.

Nigeria, regardless of having large bandwidth in these subsea cables, wallows in abysmally poor web velocity. Whereas the highest three nations (South Africa, Egypt, and Kenya) with probably the most subsea cables are among the many prime 10 nations with the quickest web velocity in Africa; Nigeria is lacking.

High 10 nations in Africa with the quickest velocity

Top 10 countries in Africa with the fastest speed
High 10 nations in Africa with the quickest velocity

Supply: Speedtest World Index by Ookla

As of August, Ookla ranks Nigeria 104th for cell web velocity and 143rd for mounted web velocity. The obtain velocity for mounted web is 16.39 Mbps, which is a great distance from the worldwide common obtain velocity at 67.25 Mbps.

It needs to be famous that the presence of subsea cables doesn’t assure an uptake in web speeds. For instance, Liechtenstein, which is the nation with the quickest web at 246.76Mbps, just isn’t probably the most related when it comes to the variety of subsea cables. Trying on the community at a extra fine-grained scale, Alexandria (Egypt) is the world’s most central node, instantly adopted by Singapore and Fujairah (United Arab Emirates).

Learn additionally: Nigerian telcos see web velocity decline in first quarter of 2022

Whereas Egypt doesn’t have the quickest web velocity on the earth, the nation ranked first amongst African nations for mounted broadband web velocity in Ookla’s Speedtest World Index for the primary and second quarters of 2022 with a median velocity of 46 Mbps, up from 6.5 Mbps in 2019.

There are a lot of challenges going through subsea cable operators in Nigeria. Other than sea hazards to which the cables are uncovered, a main problem to growing the capability of the cables is their deployment on land. Other than taxes imposed by the federal authorities, there are state-controlled costs like proper of approach and plenty of others that accumulate to make the fee virtually prohibitive for operators or infrastructure firms (InfraCos).

In December, BusinessDay reported on how big investments made by InfraCos had gone down the drain as a result of they have been unable to utilise the licences they acquired from the federal authorities to deploy infrastructure.

The Nigerian Communications Fee (NCC) had between 2014 and 2018 issued licences to seven firms as a part of efforts to scale the nation’s telecom infrastructure. The InfraCos have been supposed to supply Layer 1 (darkish fibre) companies on a industrial foundation with a deal with the deployment of metropolitan fibre and transmission companies, accessible at entry factors – Fibre-to-the-Node or Neighbourhood – to customers.

As of October 2023, not one of the InfraCos have been in a position to ship the promise embedded with the licence, most of which was to cowl the entry gaps, notably in underserved and unserved areas of the nation, and supply a wholesale layer to transmission companies on a non-discriminatory open entry value regulated foundation.

The end result has been operators shying away from investing new capital in infrastructure. In response to NCC’s annual report, the quantity of funding into the telecoms business in 2022 declined by over half to $399.9 million in comparison with $753.044 million in 2021. It’s the lowest the capital influx has dropped to in recent times. In 2019, capital influx was at $942.8 million but it surely declined to $417.6 million in 2020.

Capital inflow in Telecom sector from 2019 to 2022

Deploying cables on land has additionally been challenged by persistent vandalism, which has compelled operators to request that telecom infrastructure be handled as important nationwide property. Whereas the NCC has championed this course, the previous administration signed a Presidential Order for the Designation and Safety of Important Nationwide Data Infrastructure. The issue with govt orders is that they are often simply vetoed by one other president as they don’t have the pressure of legislation. There may be, nevertheless, a invoice often called the Important Nationwide Infrastructure Invoice that has been within the Nationwide Meeting since 2021.

Learn additionally: Telcos jittery over foreign-backed subsea cables touchdown in Africa

“Passing the Important Nationwide Infrastructure Invoice within the telecom sector has change into essential as a result of the services are for public use and should be protected by legislation to allow the sector to maintain its achievements which have impacted positively on the Nigerian financial system in addition to on organisations and people. The invoice was transmitted way back to the Nationwide Meeting, but it surely has not for as soon as been offered for listening to. It is vital that the present Nationwide Meeting members deliberate on the invoice and cross it as a matter of urgency earlier than leaving workplace this 12 months,” Gbenga Adebayo, president of the Affiliation for Licenced Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria, mentioned in January.

Opposite to Adebayo’s expectation, the invoice is but to be handed. The present meeting has but to recollect it. The business expects that Bosun Tijani, minister of communications, innovation and digital financial system, would prioritise the safety of telecom property, particularly with the discharge of his draft Strategic Blueprint.

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