Satellite pointing the way for wider broadband access in Nigeria

4 Aug 2011

At a conference to discuss the future of satellite communications in Nigeria last week, the former executive vice chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr Ernest Ndukwe, observed that Nigeria’s teledensity is currently standing at over 63% with about 90.5 million active subscribers. However, although he said that basic communications services are now available to over 90% of the population, he noted broadband access was still lacking. Ndukwe asserted that any additional wireline infrastructure deployments in rural and dispersed communities would be costly and difficult, and purported that the best way for the country to improve its connectivity was through advancements in wireless technologies such as broadband satellite and new generation mobile systems for last mile deployments. Ndukwe said: ‘Connectivity is largely lacking and over 50% of broadband internet connections in Nigeria today are via satellite. Therefore, the NigComSat-1R satellite communication technology is critical to expanding access and improving connectivity’. The NigComSat-1R satellite is set to launch in December this year as a replacement for the existing NigComSat-1. It is expected to have a service life of around 15 years and it is hoped that it will provide critical backbone infrastructure to support further ICT developments. The minister of science and technology, Prof Okon Ewa, stated that at present around USD450 million a year is spent on foreign bandwidth, which could be retained within Nigeria to be channeled into other projects within the country once its own access technologies are improved upon.