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Author Name: Yomi Adegboye
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We have made little progress as a nation with respect to the accessibility of the public to internet... (2) Comment

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Making A Case for Mobile Data in Nigeria
Author: Yomi Adegboye | December 08, 2006

We have made little progress as a nation with respect to the accessibility of the public to internet access. Whatever progress we have made has been largely limited to access via public cyber cafes. The problem of providing affordable, and reliable internet connectivity for the majority of our population has remained unsolved.

In an age where effective education, for example, is based on unfettered access to information, the majority of our eductaional institutions have no internet connectivity of any sort. Need we mention government offices, smaller private business concerns, on which our economy depend?

Pockets of Services

At the moment, what we have are small operations providing pockets of services to exclusive residential and commercial locations. In effect, the majority of the country is in the dark, information-wise. And with the huge landmass that makes up Nigeria, the resources involved in providing adequate internet services are indeed mind-boggling.

Using What We Have

I have always been a proponent of the idea of using what you have in creative and innovative ways to achieve set goals. My observation is that we do have the resources required to transform us from the stone ages into a truly digital economy: the GSM networks.

Here are the reasons why I believe that the GSM networks are key to our country bridging the digital divide:


The GSM networks already have the coverage required to deliver internet services to a significant section of our population. No other service providers come close.

Technical Capacity

Again, we do not need to go far to see that the technical capacity is already there. With all the networks already providing GPRS (General Packet Radio Service), a platform that delivers fairly fast and reliable internet services through mobile networks, the technical capacity is certainly on ground. Some of the networks claim to be 3G-ready as well. Even better.

Also, almost all the GSM networks have in place their own mirowave backbones, and international gateways.

Subscriber Base

The GSM networks already have the subscriber base. We are looking at a potential 20 million people with private access to the internet here. With the right phones and/or connectivity tools, the possibilities are enormous.

Think of students, teachers, researchers, artisans, clerical workers, doctors, technicians and more, all with private and unfettered access to the internet via what they already have - their GSM subcriptions. The multiplier effect of this unbridled access to information, knowledge and e-communications will ripple through the very fabric of our nation.

Privacy and Portability

The beauty of this scenario, if well played out, would be that not only would more people have private access to the internet, that access would also be portable. With a GPRS-enabled phone, smartphone, PDA or PCMCIA card, subscribers can take their internet access around with them wherever they go.

Taking The Bull By The Horn

The greatest impediment to the uptake of GPRS for private internet access has been pricing. Till of recent, the GSM networks in the country charged users for data usage, meaning that heavy browsing was an expensive thing to do. However, one of the networks has finally broken that jinx by offering unlimited GPRS access and usage for a moderate flat monthly fee. One expects the other networks to attempt to play catch-up as usual. As such, in the fore-seeable future, pricing should not be a bottleneck any longer.

But Do The Networks See It?

It does not seem that the GSM operators are aware of their potential power here. It does not appear that they have given much thought to the untapped market in the field of internet services. We do not hear them talk about it. There is very little being done to publicise these services. The obvious is not yet quite obvious to the operators, it seems.


Yes; we will have and continue to need the smaller operators present in the market at the moment. But when the GSM giants rise up to the occassion, we will witness a rapid increase in the penetration of internet access in our country.

(2) Comment


NGEX welcomes and encourages reader comments. Permission to post reader comments is assumed, and we reserve the right to excerpt or edit for clarity any comments that are posted. We won't be able to publish all comments. And we can't vouch for the accuracy of posts from readers. Nickname or Name will be used to identify your post.
AK. IFE    NEW YORK, U.S.A.    April 14, 2007
I Am Very Much Impressed By The Way Nigeria Is Going When It Comes To Technology. Though We Still Lagging Behind When Compared With The Developed World, Remember, Rome Was Not Built In A Day; It Is The Coalition Of Tactical Brain Work And Dedication Channeled In The Right Direction.

Many Of The Nigerian Youths Use Their Brain And Intelligence To Exploit Other People. They Want To Use The Power Of Internet To Steal Money. Tthis Is Commonly Called Yahooing! In Fact, Many Who Have The Opportunity To Travel Abroad Still Carry This Act With Them, There By Disgracing And Dragging The Immage Of Our Country Through The Mud.

I Think The Leaders Should Redirect Their Thought And Focus On The Brighter Future Of That Country, Rather Than Just Roaming In Political Island.

Our News Is Dominated By Political Activities And Violence. When Are We Going To Change. (Oye Kati Mature Ju Bayi Lo)

Our Science And Technology Should Be Giving A New Pragmatic Approach. Many Of Our So Called Engineers Are Walking Encyclopaedia. The Next Generation Should Be Thought With Much Practicals Rather Than Rote Learning.

These Things Cannot Be Achieved Until Corruption Is Crushed From Aso Rock.
Adedeji Adeleke    Cary, NC, USA    December 11, 2006
This is a very well conceived view. In addition, to the GSM view expressed in this article, I am of the opinion that existing NITEL infrastructures can also be modified / converted to provide data services to homes in form of DSL like it is done in developed countries.

I believe this, coupled with unlimited intra-state calling service, will boost subscriber base for NITEL landlines again. I have always believed that NITEL infrastructures is the easiest outlet to bridge the digital divide.

What we need is a crop of professionals who have uptodate skills on current technological trends who will explore all available means of achieving this. I am very sure there are millions of Nigerians how there who possess the skills.

I also expect this to be a hot topic issue of discuss in the ICT arena.
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