President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Nigerian Telecommunications Commission to ensure that all nooks and crannies of the country are fully covered in the broadband deployment programme.
The Executive Vice Chairman of the commission, Prof. Umar Dambatta, confirmed this in Kano, stressing that the action was geared towards the enhancement of socio-economic development through telecommunication technology.
Dambatta, who spoke during the first-leg of Broadband Engagement Forum for stakeholders in the North, said already, the country had been divided into seven zones, namely: North-West, North-East, North-Central, South-South, South-East, South-West and Lagos zones, so as to ensure effective and equitable broadband service deployment.
According to him, the tremendous capacity of broadband services at the Lagos landing points is not being felt in the hinterlands, pointing out that there is an urgent need to cover areas where the broadband services have not reached for the benefit of people who are resident outside major cities.
He explained that already, the NCC had constituted an implementation monitoring committee, not only to monitor the establishment of the broadband infrastructure project, but to also ensure adequate sensitisation of all stakeholders, as well as proffer solutions to challenges of broadband deployment, such as payment of taxes and right-of-way.
Dambatta, who highlighted the benefits of broadband services, expressed confidence that there would be gradual transformation in the areas of health, education, transportation, socio-economic development, as well as transparency and openness in governance.
Furthermore, he noted that the implementation of the broadband project would impact positively on the lives of Nigerians, adding that with broadband services, Nigeria could join the league of 20 most powerful countries by the year 2020.
He said all dedicated zones were expected to achieve the broadband -implementation, not below 1.5-megabyte requirements, because the national broadband office had defined the speed achievable and that should be maintained, if the transformation must be made possible.
The executive vice chairman noted that Nigeria had achieved telecommunications outreach of 160 million, and broadband penetration of 20 per cent.
Dambatta said, “We have registered all the broadband infrastructure licences; we have seven of them. The licences have been given to seven companies; and I believe all of them have paid.
“The licence is very cheap; it is as cheap as N2.5m. The government of President Muhammadu Buhari did not introduce the concept of broadband infrastructure licence in order to make money.
“So, whatever we are going to do here today, whatever conclusions we are going to draw, these conclusions must revolve around what we are going to do in our own right, as a people interested in pervasive telecommunication services, as well as how we can make those services available everywhere, and at the same time.
“That is the meaning of ubiquity. When we talk about ubiquitous services, we are talking about services that are available everywhere and at the same time. We are not saying they must be equal. The word here is equitable broadband services. Every part of the country, going at its own speed, but definitely, not below the minimum speed of 1.5 megabytes.
“So, I believe these are the engagements that we intend to, among others, sensitise our critical stakeholders to, like the NCC, state governments and service providers, and those, who provide infrastructure services, as well as subscribers.”