Despite having broadband service providers like MainOne, Glo 1, SAT3 and WACS Cables, the cost of internet access in Nigeria is still high compared to other parts of the world and even some African countries.
Recently, the Communications Technology Minister, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, said that the cost of 3G package per year of broadband internet access has reduced. An average internet user in Nigeria would dispute this in its totality.
It’s no news that some African countries like Kenya and Tanzania are ahead of Nigeria in terms of internet penetration and access on the notion that their governments built nationwide infrastructure backbone, allowing private sector to run it at a determined low cost and making sure that every Internet Service Provider (ISP) has equal access to available broadband capacities.
While factors like unwelcoming attitude of the government at all levels is part of the factors traceable to the high cost of internet access in Nigeria, there are also other factors like telecom operators building network infrastructure individually.
However, the high cost of internet access remains one of the fundamental reasons why internet access is not present in most homes in the country; while some homes in cities like Lagos, Port-Harcourt, Abuja among others have internet services at home, a bunch of internet users still seek refugee in cybercafes for internet access while others rely on their offices for access.
Cheaper internet access will amount to a reduced cost of operating business in Nigeria, for businesses whose activities depend on internet access, thereby giving Nigerian entrepreneurs a competitive edge with entrepreneurs from other parts of the world.
Multiple Taxation, no doubt, contributes to the cost of access as the telecom operators have no one else to pass the burden of the unnecessary exploitation to than the subscribers in the form of high cost of services.
Even the sole regulator of the industry, the Nigerian Communications Commission, also has its own contributions. Just as in the case of the fine levied against the operators late 2011 for poor services, should they be levied for poor services or be compelled to improve their quality of services?
Right of way, yearly charges for telecom infrastructures by government agencies also made the list of factors attributable to the high cost of internet access.
And above all, there is no national operator that would have beaten down the price.
Telecom operators could learn to share network infrastructure as it will beat down the running cost of individual operators which will in turn reduce the prices of telecom services.
The government, at all levels and their agencies, needs to see telecom operators as partners in progress, and the national assembly should also yield to the plea of stakeholders for telecom infrastructures to be declared as critical national infrastructure.
What are the chances of having a national operator that would ensure that the whole of the nation is connected while engendering fair competition among other telecom operators? Are we likely to pay about $20 for 5GB of data before the end of the year or by 2014? Just curious!