" ITREALMS: Waiting for NITEL’s ADSL

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Waiting for NITEL’s ADSL

Features of the week:

Nigerians’ thirst for a high-speed Internet access may have begun to quench with the introduction of Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) by Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) after a long wait since its incorporation in 1974, writes REMMY NWEKE.

No April fool
On Thursday, April 28, 2005, the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) led by Mr. Albert Mashi had promised to launch several services from the first national carrier, including the ADSL as part of its much publicized Internet Protocol (IP) wholesale strategy.

And it came to pass that the promise was no April fool after all, as NITEL last week reportedly unveiled the ADSL expected to be a wholesale to the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) along with the Private Telecommunication Operators (PTOs) in the country, beginning with the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja.

Deputy General Manager, Corporate Communications at NITEL, Mr. Tayo Ekundayo was quoted as saying that they have limited roll out plans for Abuja and Lagos, even as FCT aspect has migrated into the offer already, while in no distance time they would be up and running in Lagos.

He further said that the service would run over the existing copper line infrastructure of the telco and is ideal for homes and businesses. Just as files could be promptly downloaded on that platform and customers would need to connect to the first carrier via a telephone line linked to ISPs through NITEL nearest telephone exchange in order to enable broadband facility.

This came almost a year after Mr. Mashi assumed office, and many industry observers thought it was long over due, but a promise fulfilled. Although the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a month after his promise, precisely on May 27, 2005, came up with a new standard that delivers 10 times of ADSL speeds, known as Very-high-bit-rate Digital Subscriber Line 2 (VDSL2).

ADSL module
ADSL as at 2002 was still a new technology which allows what experts described as more data to be exchanged through an existing copper telephone lines.

With data rates ranging from 1.5 to 9 Mega-bits-per second (Mbps) when receiving data, also known as ‘downstream rate’ and from 16 to 640 kilo-bits per second (kbps) when sending equally known as ‘upstream rate’; ADSL needs a special modem to perform optimally and has continued to grow in popularity as broadband access grows.

ADSL, according to a telecommunication lab expert at Tampere University of Technology, Finland, Kimmo K. Saarela, facilitates simultaneous use of normal telephone services, Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) and high-speed data transmission such as video and pictures. This is electronically simulated by a new modulation technology known as Discrete MultiTone (DMT).

Saarela also said that DMT-based ADSL could be envisaged as the transmission technology aiding simultaneous use of normal telephone services such as data transmission at six (6) mega bits in the downstream and Basic Rate Access (BRA), thus economically interesting for local telephone firms.

The telecom expert equally explained that like Field Data Manager (FDM) system, ADSL has a base-band occupied by Plain Old Telephone service (POTs), which split from data channels by using a method that guarantees POTs services in an event of ADSL – system failure, which experts call passive filters.

On the quality of service (QoS) over ADSL, an expert, Praveen Reguraman, noted that nowadays bourgeoning digital economy driven by commercial outlook of the Internet, the demand for broadband networking and QoS architectures toward achieving application performance and user satisfaction, describing ADSL as a cost-effective broadband solution for high-speed Internet access.

For the ADSLguide based in United Kingdom (UL), Asymmetric in ADSL is a type of Digital Subscriber Line that enables the splitting of an existing telephone line signal into two; one for voice and the other for data. The world ‘asymmetric’ came as the result of uploading speed with about 256 kbps and different from upload speed.

Key rule in ADSL deployment is that consumers must be within a given distance between 3.5 to 5.5 kilometres to facilitate link to the exchange.

Merits and demerits
The NITEL wholesale strategy structured after the ‘British Telecom wholesale’ has some merits and demerits but usually ISPs have to supply consumers with modem or router either free or at additional cost for connection, namely PCI or Universal Serial Bus (USB) modems respectively and Ethernet cum wireless router.

Some of these merits include the already known high-speed which is ‘always on connection,’ ADSL is usually offered at a monthly fixed cost and has what experts call ‘ great value for money’ with competitive modem and router prices.

Demerits of ADSL basically centre on its non-availability to most population except for those in urban areas; although NITEL has just begun, UK three years ago, for instance, recorded 81 per cent household coverage via ADSL.

The service speed depends majorly on the time of the day and probably hectic for new and unaccustomed subscribers, even as the telephone line may have to pass a number of ‘tests’ before installation could be completed.

Waiting for NITEL’s ADSL
Speaking to ITREALMS Online on NITEL’s ADSL launch, chief executive of ISP firm, PiNet Informatics, Mr. Lanre Ajayi, said it’s long over-due. Pointing out that NITEL has enormous investment in copper wire, which is a pre-requisite for ADSL and this resource has been grossly under-utilised over the years.

However, Mr. Ajayi, who also is the President, Nigeria Internet Group (NIG), said “it’s heart warming that this service is being introduced by NITEL,” bringing it at par for competition with other telcos which had earlier introduced the service in the country and sub-region.

“More interesting part is the fact that ISPs would be used to retail this service to end-users,” he declared, stressing that this method would provide another channel of revenue to ISPs and would ultimately result into greater revenue for NITEL.

Nigerian populace, Mr. Ajayi said, would benefit most because they would now have access to affordable broadband service and by extension to all the offerings of broadband.

Therefore, playing a catch-up has become part of the nation’s telecom path and the earlier this offering is extended to other parts of the country such as Lagos and Port Harcourt as also promised last April, as well as apart from the main cities, the better for NITEL’s purse as the bid to sale the telco will surely soar.

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