The lingering right of way (RoW) issue, which is one of the biggest challenges impeding the deployment of fibre by the infracos, would become a non-issue when Nigeria switches to the satellite-based Internet protocol by 2023, a telecom analyst has said.
Chidi Okpanku, a telecom analyst and technology consultant at Multiplex Broadband Xprex Limited (mBx), told business a.m. that the fundamental issue of RoW will be slightly nipped in the bud when the likes of OneWeb, Starlink, and Facebook finalize their project on providing a satellite-based Internet solution to the world.
“Soon everyone will have gigabit connection using customer premises equipment (CPE) hooked to low orbiting satellite. This will happen soon and reduce the demand for costly fibre optics and RoW issues,” said Okpanku.
From satellite broadband providers like Intelsat already exploring Africa to multinational companies like Google, Facebook using balloons and drones, the sectors in Nigeria will become very competitive and service will drive growth. Players in the space would be focusing on quality and customer service, while decisions would be made without worrying about the Internet.
Analysts have already projected that many sectors in Nigeria will open up for massive dislocation as data becomes largely affordable. Google Loon and SpaceX see Africa as their markets.
With the satellite-based internet available there would be different players came into the Nigerian market to drive this wireless connectivity and that would lead to a colossal crash on the price of internet.
The telecom industry regulator, Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) had made several assurances that through its efforts in partnership with other stakeholders such as the state governors that the issue of RoW would be addressed.
These assurances seem to have hit the rocks, as there are no signals that the problem is being addressed. This is further worsened after several reports confirmed that IHS, one of the infracos to deploy fibre in the north-central region of Nigeria had returned its license to the NCC due to RoW issues.
Okpanku said the NCC alone can’t solve this as city planners, developers and government need to capture broadband as part of services for new and existing development.
He said this could be a huge source of revenue as the government can lease the ducts per kilometer to telcos while saving the city infrastructure from constant damage as telcos try to provide individual pathways long after construction is done.
However, Okpanku said city planners and policy-makers are bereft of ideas.
“When roads are constructed government keeps omitting conduits for telecom services, new roads are built without broadband provisioning and getting last mile service, therefore, become a serious issue,” Okpanku noted.
Industry stakeholders had called on the federal government to speedily come to the rescue of the telecom sector by revisiting the issues bordering on the RoW.
According to Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) the government has a duty of doing the needful by fixing issues such as the RoW, making the environment friendlier for players instead of seeing the telcos as money-spinners.
ALTON believes that the problem would be nipped in the bud depending on the government’s actions and policies.
“The cost of RoW alone is not helping the situation and that is why the government should do the needful to achieve the broadband plan that is targeted for 30 percent in 2018.”
Speaking at the 2018 NiOMA Award in Lagos, Ernest Ndukwe, former executive vice chairman NCC, said RoW is a critical issue affecting broadband penetration and with only little been achieved so far.
He said solving this issue would speed up the deployment of fibre thereby improving connectivity for every Nigerian.