Fiber Channel – prince uchendu
Nigeria’s fiber optic network is still in its infancy, primarily because the governments of the developed nations provided this infrastructure for the Telecoms sector,
whereas here it has fallen to the telecom operator’s to provide and whilst MTN & GLO, particularly the latter have made some inroads in this respect, the capital intense nature of fiber optic deployment, has meant that they have targeted commercial viable routes ( for obvious reasons) and in the process leaving out vast areas of the countries
including several state capitals based on their financial projections of return, whilst arguably understandable from their perspective,
from a government point of view, this is not satisfactory especially in view of its social obligations to it’s citizenry of universality of access; and affordability of services.
We will look to develop regulatory policies which will have the twin effect of not only increasing the pace of development in this area but ensuring coverage of the whole country to ensure that all citizenry benefit. Arguably as earlier mentioned, this is capital intensive, however, we will, via the insertion of targets into licences ( awarding & renewing), the provision of financial & other regulatory incentives to operator’s for meeting set targets in this area coupled with penalties for those that don’t ensure success in this area. Basically, a stick & carrot approach, as not enough of the revenue being generated within these shores is being reinvested in our own infra-structure by these companies especially the foreign ones .
The policies will be designed with a view to substantially reduce the award of these fiber laying contracts to offshore companies ( presently about 80%) by providing added incentives for the retention of indigenous companies (local content of ownership, management & technical staff being 95%). In this respect we will work with other government stake-holders particularly Immigration service to ensure technical expatriate quotas are not abused within the industry.
We envisaged that a successful implementation of the above would result in significant employment opportunities in the building, technical maintenance as well as security thereby providing opportunities to Nigerian graduates and casual labourers, the latter who because of their locations in remote areas, the government faces challenges in providing employment opportunities.
To achieve this, NCC will device innovative regulation and programs that will support co operative development in the fiber optic build out of Nigeria’s core network. With constructive involvement of the states of the federation, the major telecom operators and NCC, an ambitious expansion of the fiber optic facilities in the core network of Nigeria telecommunications would be implemented using the dark fiber model to speed up
The inherent benefit of this fiber optic deployment would be felt quickly in voice clarity, best link stability, fastest connections, Secured connections and lower rate of transmission in all Mobile Network Operations in Nigeria. This will be in keeping with the President’s 7-point agenda bordering on SECURITY and EDUCATION
The Shift to IP Technology i.e. 3G Networks
The shift to IP-based technologies has two major implications: the first relates to the structure and cost of networks; the second to the opportunity for innovation and competition in applications.
Estimates vary as to the magnitude of the efficiencies provided by IP networks, but it is generally agreed that they are significant. IP networks permit many types of applications to be distributed efficiently over a single network. There will no longer be such a thing as a voice or data network. As IP becomes fully integrated into networks, they will in all likelihood be capable of handling every kind of application (i.e. voice, data, audio, and video).
This increased flexibility and efficiency of IP networks will lead to decreased costs, increased competition and enhanced opportunities for both new entrants and established players in the Nigerian telecoms market. In the longer term, no single network will be able to claim primacy or be able to control a particular market. Copper, coaxial cable, optical fiber and wireless networks will all carry the full range of services and, hence, will all compete with each other, primarily on the basis of price and inherent network characteristics (e.g. mobility, transmission capacity and reliability).
On the applications side, the shift to IP-based technologies means that applications providers will no longer need to rely on a specialized network to offer their services to end users. On the contrary, since every network will theoretically be capable of supporting every type of application, new service providers should be able to enter existing markets or create entirely new markets simply by connecting to one or more of the available IP networks. And, customers will have a much greater say in determining which applications are developed, offered to the public and achieve success in the market place.
Presently, 3G & IP technology in Nigeria has not achieved an appreciable penetration in comparison to what is obtainable even in South Africa. Government policies can be employed in creative and innovative ways to provide an enabling environment that would, as a consequence, see penetration of 3G & IP technology in Nigeria attaining those of the western standards.
One of the regulatory tools the NCC can use in this area to spur innovation and development would be to grant build out subsidies and certain technology licensing waivers. This self financing approach will ensure that government achieves its obligations at the lowest cost; the realization of ubiquity in the 3G & IP technology in Nigeria’s telecommunication sector will boost employment in the sector, generate healthy cost savings for the consumers and create incidental wealth and economic advances in other sectors such as banking and insurance. With an efficient 3G network, the Banks and the Insurance companies would be able to offer their customers online banking and insurance services respectively.