At the moment, there are four active undersea cable systems ((MainOne Cable, Glo-1, MTN’s WACS and NITEL’s SAT-3) in the country. The existing submarine cables in Nigeria carry an installed capacity of over 19.2 terabytes, about 340 gigabyte combined, a significant increase in the capacity available to drive bandwidth dependent services.
Opeke, however pointed out that only about five percent of the bandwidth capacity available on MainOne cable is currently being utilised, leaving 95 percent of the capacity redundant but available for use. Speaking at an interactive session with journalists, Opeke blamed the poor utilisation of the cable on the absence of distribution and last mile infrastructure required to move available bandwidth capacity across the length and breadth of Nigeria. If Nigeria is to enjoy the benefits of broadband, she said regulatory and legislative interventions were required to address these challenges.
Nigeria’s telecommunications market, according to her requires a well-rounded infrastructure sharing framework to encourage new entrants and stimulate investments in broadband in order to harness its potentials for wealth creation and economic development. “We strongly believe that it’s something government can set up in less than 60 days. It does no require years of study”, she stated.
The cost of moving internet traffic from Lagos to Abuja, according to her is four times higher than the cost of moving the same level of traffic from Lagos to London. This, she went on is because operators with huge fibre infrastructure have not embraced infrastructure sharing.
Besides, those who have offer services at unfair and prohibitive prices. “Looking at the cost and competition policy under the Communications Act, there is absolutely no need for that pricing mechanism. We need to have more infrastructure sharing. “If people who build the infrastructure are running it over public right-of-way, and have received tax concessions to build those networks, I see no reason for such pricing mechanism. If private sector has built the infrastructure, then they certainly should make it available to others operators and networks on a fair and non-discriminatory basis. The federal government has done nothing about this so far”, the MainOne CEO added.
Business Day learnt that there is more than 30,000 kilometres of domestic fiber optic cables to connect those international cables to more than 50 percent of the Nigerian population. But from all indications access to them is so far discriminatory and inordinately expensive.
This, according to industry watchers has inhibited access for most Nigerian schools, hospitals, government agencies, young professionals and small and medium businesses.