Nigeria has one of the highest consumption of data among other African countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, only South Africa tops Nigeria’s monthly data consumption. Nigerian users consume 80,000 terabytes (80 million gigabytes) while South Africa consumes up to 269,000 terabytes (269 million gigabytes) every month. Despite these numbers, the cost of data is not cheap for the average Nigerians. For instance, in 2022, Nigeria ranked as one of the top five countries in Africa with the highest costs of data.
Data shows that 1GB of data cost $0.61 on average. Considering this average cost of 1GB data at N487.18 as announced by the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) in 2020, Nigerians spent at least N100.3 billion on internet data in the year under review. According to the subscriber/network data report released by the NCC, data usage in 2020 increased from 123,648 terabytes (which was recorded in 2019) to 205,880.4 terabytes. This represents a 66.5 percent increase during the review period. The report also revealed that broadband penetration peaked at 45.93 percent within the year.
Stakeholders say fiber broadband will help reduce user data costs.
The report also revealed that GSM operators had a 12.33 percent increase in revenue from N2.02 trillion recorded in 2019 to N2.27 trillion in the review period. Internet service providers generated a sum of N68.96 billion in revenues, a 28.31 percent increase compared to N53.75 billion recorded in 2019. Nonetheless, industry stakeholders disclosed to the media that fiber broadband is a sure way of cutting down the huge amount of money spent on data. However, this proposed idea is not without challenges.
Fiber broadband is a type of high-speed internet connection that uses fiber-optic technology to transmit data from the telephone exchange to users’ area. Fiber optic cables are faster in transferring data than standard copper wires. So, a fiber broadband connection is faster than DSL, cable and satellite broadband connections. Dr. Kenny Joda, Head of Sales at FibreOne Broadband, spoke to the media on the benefits of fiber broadband. According to Dr. Joda, nothing affects fiber broadband connectivity, not even bad weather.
The technology is presently not a mass market service.
With 5G internet connectivity now in place, Dr. Joda said connectivity becomes much faster with fiber broadband. In the long run, the technology will also be much cheaper than the others. Speaking on the company’s product, Dr. Joda explained, “Other than the initial cost of installation, you get value for money and we at FibreOne offer unlimited data, in that once you pay N11,000, it lasts for one month without disruptions. You can connect all your devices and it won’t finish within the one-month subscription.”
On the other hand, the Chief Operating Officer, eStream Networks Limited, Martins Akingba, explained to the press that the technology could cut down the cost of data if it is deployed everywhere in Nigeria. However, it is not a mass market service as of today in Nigeria. Akingba said it would take years of investments to make any appreciable impact in the use of fiber optics for delivering internet service in the country. Even in advanced countries, the technology is only available in metropolitan areas. In Nigeria today, it is still restricted to major cities like Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Ibadan and some other capital cities.
FG targets 90% broadband penetration by 2025.
Another challenge is lack of infrastructure, especially power. Akingba said the absence of an incumbent national operator has forced private investors to disallow other local providers access this infrastructure. Fortunately, the Federal Government had realized that broadband penetration is significant to reducing the cost of data. Hence, it has targeted 70 percent broadband penetration to cover 90 percent of the population by 2025. To achieve this, the government has reduced the right-of-way tariff to N150 per meter. Dr. Joda also disclosed that the Federal Government has given Internet Service Providers (ISPs) a lot of assistance as effort to boost broadband penetration in Nigeria.