Today, access to the internet is gaining ever increasing levels of importance in the lives of people the world over. The significance is such that some now speak of an internet access revolution; thanks especially to growth in mobile access.
As if to underscore this significance, Airtel Nigeria recently ran a campaign, it tagged, ‘Data is the life’. According to one report, “the campaign highlights the irreplaceable value which quality internet services offer to consumers.”
This campaign has now (no doubt) entered the annals of history as perhaps one of the most exciting campaigns by a telco in recent memory. ‘Data is life’ was captivating, believable, relatable and quite relevant.
Just in case you missed it due to a recent trip to Mars, please click on this link and be wowed: https://www.google.com.ng/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiIhfjThPbWAhXFvRoKHUNdDPUQtwIIJjAA&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D9QOKJ0FGk90&usg=AOvVaw12BJ-C57JuZcnY-23ziTNe
Data is indeed life!
It is thus truly heartwarming to note that the widespread availability of internet access has spurned new businesses, improved individual and corporate productivity and boosted overall socio-economic development across Nigeria. Today, from the comfort of a home or office, one can order food, purchase electronics, and also share previous moments with family and friends.
It is just an awesome possibility. The benefits should undoubtedly be within the reach and means of every Nigerian.
Fortunately, those in government seem to appreciate the important of improving internet reach. The last couple of year, the Federal Government, the Ministry of Communication and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) have hyped and harped on the target to achieve 30 percent broadband internet penetration by 2018. A laudable objective, no doubt.
To actualize the target, the commission has granted licenses for several new spectrums to drive penetration of internet services. Think 2.4GHz (2014) and the 2.6GHz (2016) spectrums. It has also campaigned relentlessly both in local and international fora for new investments in broadband.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that Nigeria may well be on the path to achieving it broadband internet penetration target. So the ‘reach’ is looking good, but the ‘means’ is taking a beating. And quite unfortunately it appears to be happening completely under the radar.
So while access to the internet is becoming more available even in otherwise underserved areas, the cost appears to be extending beyond the means of everyday Nigerians.
An instance, will suffice. Only last month a leading telco offered 1.5Gb for N1,000 only. Today, sadly, that same 1.5 Gb that is now available for N1,200. This translates to a whopping 20 percent increase in cost or if you prefer a reduction in value – just like that.
If data is truly as important as it is being claimed (and it is), shouldn’t the NCC do more to ensure the cost remains affordable?
Shouldn’t the NCC do this even if the only way to achieve it is to reduce its own levies, dues and other receivables from the telecom operators?
The regulatory must equally step up efforts to combat some of the biggest and the perennial challenges of the sector: cumbersome and expensive right of ways approvals, multi-taxation and the lack of power that makes operators spend billions on installing and maintaining over 60, 000 (sixty thousand) power generating sets across the country.
Operators must also demonstrate a willingness to curb the cravings for exorbitant profits. They shouldn’t be seen to be only interested in making excessive profit to the detriment of the consumers.
We agree that ‘Data is life’. Everything must be done to make it available and affordable to ALL Nigerians.
Every Nigerian deserves access to the internet. This may well be the ticket to real change.
Elvis Eromosele, Chief Content Officer at De Royale Hall Resources, an Educational, Research and Content development firm.