More customers will reduce cost of broadband –Ojha

Atul Ojha is the Chief Operating Officer of Spectranet Limited, an Internet Service Provider in the country. He assesses ISPs’ performances and the challenges they face in this interview with STANLEY OPARA

What is the future of the Internet in Nigeria?

The future is very bright for Internet services in Nigeria. Part of it is the 4G Long Term Evolution Internet Wireless Broadband Network newly introduced in Nigeria. The 4G LTE Internet Wireless Broadband Network is fast growing globally and now has been brought to Nigeria. It has registered the highest growth globally across various technologies and offers a cutting edge experience for users. It is the most advanced technology, which is fast and reliable.

Today, reliable and fast access to the Internet is no luxury but a necessity; broadband penetration has a direct impact on a country’s growth. This has been proved time and time again in many countries and across continents.

There are better technologies that are available in terms of resources and other point of view. If you really look at the growth of the LTE technology, it has global acceptability and the percentage is great. Its advantages are open to all stakeholders because they need to meet up with the global trend. Nigeria should be given the opportunity to experience what others in the United States and other parts of the world are enjoying and that is simply what companies like ours have tried to do.

Most Internet service providers in the country are passing through hard times; what has your experience been?

We’ve never been off the market; we’ve been here since we started. We only had to re-strategise. We are very much present and making enquires. We have actually deployed a system of technology that could serve the consumers better. This is why we are deploying the 4G LTE.

You see, telecommunication business is one that really needs a long term commitment. It is a business that needs a very good plan to sustain you for a very long duration.

We are one of the ISPs in the country with long term commitment to the country and to the business.

There are degrees of difficulties. They include very high cost of locating towers. Power and security challenges are also vital. All these things have to be put into consideration. The challenges are very unique in this country. But when you have a long term commitment, you keep on investing in the business. So, it is a combination of these different challenges that is affecting the growth of ISPs. But they cannot stop us.

Most players in the business don’t have the needed capacity to serve their customers and cannot handle a huge number of clients. How can this problem be addressed?

Broadband capacity is available in abundance; the problem is basically wireless connectivity on the available networks. International language is one of the most expensive in this part of the world today. The cost of our poor location is relatively very high. So, the cost of the end product on the consumers is also high.

The way forward is that we need to have more customers. This will increase the quality of broadband. The volume will get better and the cost will come down. When consumption increases, operators will be able to reduce the cost.

What role can the government play in all of this?

There is a positive movement in broadband if you look at how the western region has grown. The regulator needs to provide support in certain areas. There are issues with bandwidth availability. There is the need to increase the bandwidth in the country, which means if I will be connecting Lagos to Abuja, the cost I will be spending will almost be the same thing with that of an international connection.

Globally, people have international access as well as domestic access. These companies can go into retail market depending on their choice. That is going to be beneficial to the consumers because they have multiple options today; these were not available some years ago. It also enhances the provision of good services to the people. It may be competitive but there is a lot of broadband available in the country.

As a service provider, we know everybody is always keen about what the competition is doing. But at the end of the day, the best line will be used.

How can the ISPs strategise to remain in business amid all these challenges?

As far as the consumer is concerned, the ISPs can develop plans that will enable consumers to access multiple applications. This enables faster download of movies and saves time that could be used for other things. The strategies in these plans should be able to make consumers have experiences with lots of happiness and satisfaction.

The plans should be diversified to give customers service options. Customers should be able to determine their choices and the ISPs make the choices available to them.

The ISPs should play their roles as stated in the national regulatory policy. They should be able to give good experience for consumers’ money.

The growth of Internet services has a very progressive effect on the growth of the economy. ISPs are playing a crucial role that could improve the Internet penetration in the country.

ISPs should engage stakeholders to brainstorm on issues that will be beneficial to the government as well as the consumers. This is done at service providers’ forums in which we also participate to display and express what could be done more to achieve set goals and objectives.

This year for instance, we made a joint presentation to the Nigerian Communications Commission to suggest ways of moving the sector forward. We work together and give support in order to achieve our objectives.

Any plans to merge with another ISP or acquire one?

We are not planning any acquisition. We are currently not in any position to acquire any company. We are capable enough to satisfy our customers. It is not that we are comfortable where we are; we still have a lot to do. But our services are sufficient enough.

4G is a high level language. What advantages will consumer get from this?

The 4G network has both low and high level languages and that gives it a high level of delivery to network users. As a high level language, it means from different sectors, a large number of people will be able to access it. So, it means it will have a high consumer usage. It has the ability to take an extra frequency and extra customers. It serves both the low and large consumers because of its design in low and high languages. It has a language application which will make the consumer feel better and download movies of longer length.

What role is your company playing in all this?

Coupled with technology, Spectranet’s commitment towards customer centricity, reliability, flexibility, responsiveness, innovative products and services will herald a new and exciting experience for customers in Nigeria. Based on the pattern of usage, we offer a high bandwidth of up to 4Mb and above with data downloads as high as 30Gb and above.

It is recommended that all data technologies move to advance technology; so, we are taking the initiative up by introducing 4G LTE and we hope that the new customers will move from the old technology to a new one.

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