Behind all the well orchestrated public relations work around the launch of 3G and 4G services by various Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and telecommunications companies in Nigeria, none of them is offering real broadband to consumers, industry analysts have said.
But more importantly, internet consumers living in Nigeria are still paying far more for broadband services than their counterparts in mature markets, putting it completely out of the reach of majority of the populace. Industry analysts told Business Day yesterday that out of over 40 million Nigerians already connected to the internet, only about 12 million, representing around 3 percent, have access to efficient broadband internet.
This, according to them, is inspite of the falling prices of bandwidth capacity due to the growing number of undersea cables on the coastline. Industry estimates show that some $2.24 billion (N336 billion) has been invested in deploying underwater cables expected to lower bandwidth cost and improve availability, but Nigerian internet users still complain about the slow and exasperating access to the information superhighway. Richard Hurst, senior analyst at Ovum noted yesterday: “Demand for broadband services in emerging markets continues to be stifled by high prices. In some countries, broadband pricing was double or triple the price of an equivalent service in a more developed market.
“In addition, lower GDP per capita in Nigeria, means that broadband is only available to the highest socio-economic groups.” Commenting on the state of broadband service delivery in Nigeria, Chima Onyekwere, chairman, Linkserve, pioneer ISP, said: “When we defined broadband four years ago, we said that broadband was anything from 128kbs. “Today, we can not define broadband in that manner.
Broadband is actually 4 megabits (MEG) per second. Therefore, I can confidently say that no telcos or ISP is delivering 4 MEG to any consumer in the market.” According to Onyekwere, telcos don’t have 4 MEG available to them, and it is an illusion to think that Nigerians are enjoying broadband in its true form.