Nigerian group roots for bandwidth subsidy

By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria

Nigeria Internet Group (NIG) says the painfully slow connections and most times, no connection, experienced by end users of data services in the country is because of the punitive cost of bandwidth. The body has therefore called on the Federal Government to subsidise bandwidth cost for the citizens.

NIG says already, capacities exist in Glo 1, MainOne West African Cable System (WACS) substantially funded by MTN, and dormant capacities in NigComSat R and SAT 3 in which the moribund NITEL is a major stakeholder. Another, Ace is set to land Q4 in the country. These capacities have not made any difference at all as internet access continues to be a major issue in Africa's oil rich nation.

NIG President Bayo Banjo said the cost of bandwidth is too high for the average internet user in the country, adding that there is great frustration among internet users after subscribing to one bundle plan or the other from internet service providers (ISPs).

According to him, ISPs are not living up to their promises because they have to share, adding that this explains why it takes so long for internet pages to load or never loads at all.

“The reason people experience frustration when using the internet is because the cost of bandwidth is too high. We have to bring down the price of bandwidth. So what the companies are doing is that they buy bandwidth and share,” said Banjo, who is also the chief executive officer of Disc Communication.

He said the solution to the problem is to crash the cost of bandwidth, urging the Federal Government to step in and subsidise the cost so that when it becomes ubiquitous, the benefits arising from the economy of scale will be fully tapped.

“To get good bandwidth, we have to bring the cost down. What I told the government is that they should bring down the cost of bandwidth. The Federal Government should subsidise the cost of bandwidth until the customer base becomes large, the ordinary man on the street also begins to browse, and economies of scale bring down the price,” he said.

According to him, the CEO of MainOne Cable Company, Funke Opeke, has given an assurance that when uptake volumes cross a certain threshold, she will be willing to substantially bring down the cost of bandwidth.

 “Somebody has to take the flak. Even MainOne CEO, Funke Opeke, had assured that if she has certain amount of volume, she can bring bandwidth cost down to $25 per month for one megabyte, which is about N2000 for a whole megabyte, but she needs that volume,” he said.

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