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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

‘Declare state of emergency on broadband’

An alliance of 26 Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) firms with focus on broadband deployment and development, has urged the newly elected President, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar ‘Adua, to declare state of emergency on broadband.

The alliance known as Nija WiFi Consortium, dominated by the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the country, made this call at the weekend in Lagos.

Broadband is a transmission medium capable of supporting a wide range of frequencies, typically from audio up to video frequencies. It could carry multiple signals by dividing the total capacity of the medium into multiple, independent bandwidth channels, where each channel operates only on a specific range of frequencies.

Also, Broadband is a fast, permanent Internet connection that could be accessed through Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL), cable, Third Generation (3G) or satellite platforms.

The declaration according to the Consortium would boost deployment and bring about the development of broadband in the country into the front burner.

Speaking through the interim chairman of the consortium, Mr. Ndukwe Kalu of Amsco Telecom, they said the declaration would enable the government to give a focused attention to broadband deployment.

While welcoming the new government led by Alhaji Yar Adua, the Naija WiFi Consortium said that they expect the government to add broadband into its agenda, stressing the declaration would assist immensely in giving the broadband the relevant edge to drive ICT penetration in the country.

He recalled that the recent study in the United States showed that they leveraged on broadband, saying it would enable Nigeria when deployed to facilitate what he described as ‘off-shore’ solution companies, hence it is critical for the government to make the declaration soonest.

The consortium also urged President Yar Adua to add broadband as the 8th on the list of his agenda.

“Declare the state of emergency on broadband as the 8th agenda of this government,” the group said.

The consortium equally commended the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for its foresight in declaring the year 2007 as year of broadband in the country, adding that it stresses the importance of broadband at this era.

In addition, the group gave kudos to NCC for introducing the State Accelerated Broadband Initiative (SABI), noting that NCC has done well but there is a need for the federal government and leadership of the government to re-emphasis the role of NCC by declaring a state of emergency on broadband.

“It needs to be re-emphasised at the Federal Government level as the 8th agenda of this government,” they asserted.

Mr. Kalu, who was accompanied by the chief executive of Terra Systems, Mr. Seni Williams among others, pointed out that the Nija WiFi Consortium is an alliance dominated by Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) on ICT, drawn from the six geo-political zones of the country to facilitate Wireless Fidelity (WiFi) access deploy in 47 cities nationwide as its outline for the first phase.

The first phase expected to last for six months, Nija WiFi said, would be targeting at deploying 300 million kilo bites per second (kbps) in 24 months.

This impact of FG declaration and deployment by the Consortium, Mr. Kalu said, would be felt as soon as possible because they belief that it would enthrone Silicon Valley like environment in all the cities to be deployed nationwide.

“We expressly belief that every city should earn foreign exchange. We want a national deployment,” he said, urging its members to also ensure they connect to the Nigeria Internet Exchange Point (NIXP) which is waiting for commissioning soon.

As said by him, their connection with NIXP would go a long way in improving local content and boosting broadband cost, which would reduce drastically, hence the Consortium supports NIXP.

In furtherance of its support for the deployment of ICT especially using the Internet, the group announced the donation of N500,000 to the Nigerian Internet Registration Association (NiRA), saying that NiRA has come to stay and would contribute greatly in branding Nigeria through the country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) .ng.

“We would be giving N500,000 to NiRA to support the project in building local content with .ng instead of dot com,” he said.

He cited an instance with Morocco, where broadband was 15 months ago declared state of emergency on Broadband, saying that today, Morocco is the first broadband nation on the continent and Nigeria should take a queue due to the economic emancipation that accompanies it.

The Consortium, he said, has outlined plans to roll out base stations that could run on Direct current (DC), which is the unidirectional flow or movement of electric charge carriers that are usually electrons. and could last for about a week with a take off budget of N5 billion, assuring their readiness to roll out.

Members of the consortium consist of Linkserve, Amsco Telecom, Terra Systems, SIOTel, ACITech, Spaceway among others.

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