Johnson: Telecoms infrastructure in Nigeria is already overstretched

By The Rainbow
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The Minister for Communication Technology, Omobola Johnson,  has said the existing telecommunication infrastructure has been overstretched.

.The minister said that as a responsible government it cannot fold its arm and allow things to continue as they are.

Johnson spoke at the maiden edition of the Telecoms Stakeholders Summit 2013, hosted by the Nigerian Communications Commission, which took place on Tuesday in Lagos State.

'We must intervene. When you transform lives, you transform a nation. That is the power of the broadband. Broadband can increase business productivity, save lives, and increases the productivity of a nation,' she said.

The minister while admitting remarkable improvement on  investment in the sector pointed out it was still not enough to meeting the soaring demand telecom products in the county.

The summit had as its theme,  'Transforming a nation with broadband telecom as instrument for sustainable development'.

It was meant to provide a platform for cross-fertilisation of ideas  on how to boost broadband supply and availability in the country.

The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), which hosted the event,

expressed believe that broadband is going to address data communication.

According to the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, Nigerian Communications Commission, Eugene Juwah,  the purpose of the event was to have consumers, service providers/operators, the government and the international community under one roof to brain storm, share ideas and proffer solutions to challenges that affect the sector.

He said that the  commitment of the commission was  to satisfy all stakeholders. 'It is a very difficult task and our best approach is to continue to consult and to remain firm, fair and forthright. This Telecoms Stakeholders Summit is part of the opportunity for stakeholders to share their differences and experiences,' he said.

On broadband, the NCC said: 'Today the internet speed is averagely low, you have low download speed, low upload speed because of the constraints of the bandwidth.

But with the broadband, we are going to have huge capacity of bandwidth that will drive data communication, so all of the applications namely e-learning, e-governance, e-agriculture, e-health and all of those data services that drive human development can be enhanced.'

'The difference is that broadband is going to unleash the potential and capability for data communication as against just voice.

'We have gotten to a critical mass in terms of voice communication but now the next level is data communication which broadband is going to drive,'

The commission added once insufficient infrastructure and multiple taxation issues are addressed, the problem of infrastructure in the telecoms industry will be reduced to a large extent.

Funke Opeke, CEO Main One Cable Limited, said the broadband challenge was how to get it from the shoreline to the hinterland. She said if the broadband is not first made available to cities, it would be almost impossible to link them up and make them available in more interior locations. She said the Open Access Infrastructure project, which the Commission was working on will enable better broadband access in interior locations.

'We are delighted at the Open Access Infrastructure Project,' she said, adding that the firm would like to see the approval to begin usage next year. She also said that it was expedient for operators to share their infrastructure as it is not expected and recommended for every operator to build infrastructure in every town and village.