As part of the commitment of the federal government to establish clear strategies and milestones in its journey towards the availability of affordable broadband infrastructure and services, the Executive Vice-Chairman, Nigeria Communications Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta, has stated the desire of the commission to ensure that the country attains 30 per cent broadband penetration before the end of 2018.
Danbatta, who disclosed this Thursday in Lagos at the 10th anniversary Lecture and Awards of Business Journal with the theme: 'Infrastructure and Economic Growth: Exploring the Strategic Alliance', stated that as at March, the country's broadband penetration was estimated at 22 per cent, adding that most of the access was through wireless broadband.
He also noted that as part of the initiative to achieve the National Broadband Plan (NBP) target for broadband penetration, the commission has licensed and auctioned frequency spectrum to some new and existing licensees, "some of these licensees include Bitflux Communication Limited (Bitflux), MTN Communications Limited, Intercellular Nigeria Limited and others".
Danbatta explained that as part of the infrastructural rollout by existing licensees and ongoing initiatives, the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) have deployed about 52,000 kilometres of fiber optic cables as at April 2018.
The executive vice-chairman, who was represented at the event by the Assistant Director, Technical Standards, NCC, Mr. Edoyemi Ogo, stated that there are about 33,000 2G, 29,000 3G and about 4,000 LTE sites deployed as at April 2018, adding that five international submarine cable and landing station service operators have landed cables in the country.
The NCC boss remarked that to ensure the continuous rollout of requisite infrastructure, 12 metropolitan fiber cable network companies and 12 national long distance operators are licensees of the commission.
Danbatta further stated that to expedite the rollout of the fiber optic infrastructure across the country, the commission has examined the open access model as the model for optic fiber transmission network deployment to bridge the current gap and deliver fast and reliable broadband services to households and businesses.
According to him, "To drive the process for the delivery of fast and reliable broadband services across the country, the commission established a Broadband Implementation and Monitoring Committee (BIMC). This committee is charged with driving the broadband infrastructure licensing and deployment using the open access model.
"In 2015, two Infrastructure Companies (Infracos) were licensed to provide services in Lagos and the North-central geopolitical zone including Abuja. Additional licences have been made to five more Infracos recently for the other zones.
"Furthermore, the commission through the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) is implementing the following access and connectivity programmes for the under-served and unserved areas across the country which includes: BTRAIN-Backbone Transmission Infrastructure: over 3,250km of fiber across six geo-political zones are being deployed, UniCC-University Intercampus connectivity and BTS- Base Transceiver Stations: 155 BTS sites are being deployed under the accelerated mobile phone expansion at various location in the six geo-political zones.
"On completion, the BTS will provide voice and data services populations in 930 communities. Other initiatives includes tertiary institutions knowledge centres at 73 school locations, information resource centres at 73 library locations, E-accessibility project at 14 locations across the geo-political zones, E-Health project, at 13 General Hospitals across the six geo-political zones, school knowledge centres at 1,324 schools in all the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and community resource centres at 93 communities in 93 local government areas.
"There are still infrastructural gaps to be filled to ensure ubiquitous broadband delivery in towns and cities across the country. In the drive to address these gaps and increase broadband penetration and thus accrue the benefits to the country of the resultants positive effects of the increased penetration, the National Broadband Plan was articulated."
Earlier, in his remarks, the Publisher, Business Journal, Prince Cookey, said clocking a decade in the challenging media scene in the country is a milestone driven by passion for what they do, the innate quality of their people and the desire to deliver greater value to their stakeholders as well as create better future for the organisation.
He also stated that their focus is to add value to their readers and advertise through digital channel expansion, corporate partnerships and tailor-made editorial content, "clearly, we are marching confidently on the path to greater market mileage in the years ahead".