Airtel Pledges Commitment to Govt. Plan on National Broadband

By Uche Peter

Lagos, Nigeria; Friday, 14 March, 2014: A few months after the Federal Government approved the National Broadband Plan for year 2013 to 2018 and following the recent award of 2.3 GHZ spectrum licence to Bitflux consortium by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), leading telecommunications operator, Airtel Networks limited, has pledged its commitment to the Federal Government's plan to address the penetration and utilisation of broadband.

The company's Director of Regulatory Affairs and Special Project, Osondu Nwokoro gave this assurance recently in his presentation at a conference on E- Business in the country.

Speaking on the topic, Policy and Regulatory Imperatives for Broadband Ubiquity, Mr. Nwokoro noted that NBP is a step in the right direction and affirms Government's commitment to meeting the country's broadband needs.

'Airtel welcomes the issuance of the National Broadband Plan (NBP), 2013-2018 by the Federal Government; it is consistent with developments in other jurisdictions. It is a step in the right direction and shows Government's commitment to pursue a Broadband agenda for the country. Airtel is deeply committed to partnering with the Government to implement the NBP and facilitate broadband realisation in Nigeria,' he said.

Nigeria's national broadband penetration currently stands at 6% with a potential of rising to 42% by 2018 and 76% by 2020. This follows a projected 80% increase in coverage by 2018 and 95% by 2020. The country ranks first among Africa'stop 10 internet countries with about 48.4 million users. The nearest country to her is Egypt at 29.8 million.

While commenting on the socio-economic gains accruable from the national broadband targets, Mr. Nwokoro said the scheme when implemented would contribute about NGN 190 Billion naira to the national GDP by 2015 with a direct revenue impact projected at NGN 599 Billion (0.7%) from spend on usage and devices during same period.

Speaking further, Mr. Nwokoro disclosed that the operator is in partnership with five State Governments to implement a number of E-Social Service initiatives vis-à-vis E-Education, E-Government and E-Health and assured on the company's readiness to partner other states for the full realisation of the all-inclusive benefits of an inter-driven economy.

'We are willing to partner with all 36 States Governments and the Federal Government to deliver Broadband solutions that meet their requirements taking advantage of our wide 3.75G network spread,' he added.

Airtel Networks Limited is currently the only service provider of 3.75G in the country with coverage in over 180 cities and towns across the nation, and also leading the pack on 4G LTE upgrade. The company also is in partnership with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) in a bid to make smart phones more affordable to consumer, thereby proffering solutions to one of the identified challenges to effective implementation of the NBP.