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Nigeria state governors race for fibre cable deployment after coming to terms with commercial benefits

Internet last mile: X-raying Business Benefits of Fibre Connectivity as Governors Crash RoW Charges

IT News Nigeria Team:

As the nation awaits many more state governors to respond to federal Government’s call to peg Right of Way (RoW) charges from N4,500 to N145 per metre, there is excitement in the air as regards how broadband Last-Mile and fibre-to-home connectivity will impact on businesses in the near future.

To be clear, RoW charge is a levy paid by telecoms companies to state governments, permitting telecoms companies to dig up the roads and install telecoms hardware such as optic fibre cables that carry internet traffic. Fiber to the home, also called ‘fiber to the premises’ is the installation and use of optical fibre from a central point directly to individual buildings such as residences, apartment buildings and businesses to provide unprecedented high-speed Internet access with well defined benefits including  more reliable and faster broadband speeds for modern demands.

It is on record that fibre-optic connectivity can lend a great advantage to companies of all sizes, particularly organizations that use the cloud for apps or data storage. And fibre coupled with voice-over-IP (VoIP) telephony is a powerful combination for business communications. The last mile or last kilometre is a phrase widely used in the telecoms, cable television and internet industries to refer to the final leg of the telecommunications networks that deliver telecommunication services to retail end-users or customers.

Benefits: Furthermore, fibre-optic Internet is many times faster than even the highest-speed copper Internet connections, with options available that range from 5 Mbps to 100 Gbps. Research indicates that slow Internet connections cost employees “one week per year of productivity.

In terms of Cloud access, from customer relationship management tools to data storage, the cloud is an important business tool for apps, hosting, and more. 96% of organizations are now using the cloud in some capacity. The speed and bandwidth capabilities of fibre Internet mean faster access to your data and applications stored in the cloud.

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In the same vein, there are reliability issues. Fibre Internet connectivity offers significant reliability advantages over copper Internet connectivity, due to the fact that fibre is much stronger than copper. Fibre-optic Internet is not susceptible to inclement weather conditions, which can damage or stall data transmission via copper cabling. Fibre is also resistant to human or electrical interference unless fibres are physically cut. As regards signal strength; with traditional broadband Internet using DSL or Ethernet over Copper, the signal degrades as the user moves away from the switch. The signal strength of fibre-optic Internet does not degrade as quickly over distance. Organizations in relatively large spaces could benefit from better signal strength throughout the facility. Copper cable Internet that supports broadband is sensitive to electromagnetic interference, which can be caused by the proximity of heavy machinery. Fibre Internet signals do not degrade or disappear due to electromagnetic interference.

Also essential is Cost Savings. Fast Internet is widely considered’ to be a productivity tool for businesses. As mentioned above, eliminating speed issues could result in a week’s worth of productivity increases each year. If your business suffers from unreliable connectivity due to region or weather, you could be losing thousands of dollars each year. Productivity issues that are directly attributed to slow or unreliable cable Internet could disappear with fibre.

What governors say?

In recognition of these business benefits associated with fibre powered internet access, the Executive Governors of Kaduna, Imo, Katsina and Plateau States are reported to have crashed the RoW charges. The RoW charges in these States have either been pegged at a maximum of N145 per linear metre or waived altogether.

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The RoW charges in Kaduna State have been completely waived, while the charges in Katsina, Plateau and Imo State have been pegged at a maximum N145 per linear metre. On the 20th of May 2020, Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State signed Executive Order No. 002, 2020, “significantly reducing Right of Way (RoW) of telecommunication companies in the state from N4,500 to N145 per meter in tandem with federal government policy”.

Ekiti State governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi said his decision is aimed at ensuring that  Ekiti achieves full broadband penetration by 2021 to attract new businesses, create jobs, improve access to quality healthcare and digital education while improving internally generated revenue.

He also noted that “it is also aligned with the ongoing development of the Ekiti Knowledge Zone, designed to be Nigeria’s first service-based innovation park.”

Government appeal:

The Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), in commending leaders recently, said the actions of the Governors are truly commendable.  They also align with the resolution of the State Governors under the auspices of the Governors’ Forum on the 22nd of January 2020 to address the lingering issue of RoW charges in a bid to deepen broadband penetration in the country and promote a Digital Economy for a Digital Nigeria. 

According to him, at that meeting the Executive Governors had resolved to adopt the 2013 resolutions reached by the National Economic Council (NEC) which agreed on a maximum RoW charge of N145 per linear meter of fibre. Implementing this resolution will go a long way in implementing the National Broadband Plan which was launched by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, on the 19th of March 2020.

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An increase in broadband access will have a positive impact on the economy of the various States as well as the entire country.  One of the key benefits is the rapid growth in the gross domestic product (GDP) of any country that increases its broadband penetration. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how important broadband is in supporting economies around the world.

The Minister also encouraged other Executive Governors to do the same in order to support the development of our digital economy, facilitate digital literacy and accelerate broadband penetration across the country. This will also improve our Gross Domestic Product, he said.

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