The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) noted that having surpassed its 30 percent broadband penetration target of 2018, Nigeria is set to bridge the telecommunications access gap with new focus on ubiquitous Internet access.
The NCC said its strategy to increase broadband penetration will include the review and overhaul of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) 2013-2018, infrastructure upgrade and fresh investments. The company stated this in a document which also explained how the country was able attain 31 percent broadband penetration in 2018.
The document, which was made available to journalists, showed that in November 2018 there were 168,729,005 mobile “GSM” mobile subscribers in the country, of which 108,457,051 were subscribed to Internet access services provided by the major operators.
It was stated in the document that “in terms of broadband services, a total of 58,965,478 connected to the Internet through 3G and 4G networks (including those provided by the LTE-only service providers such as Smile and nTel)”.
NCC disclosed that this distinction was critical because Nigerians predominantly rely on mobile networks for Internet access, including broadband networks since the fixed broadband access, which would have been led by NITEL, is now non-existent.
The telecoms regulator also explained that broadband penetration is typically measured by the percentage of total population with access to broadband networks out of every hundred.
The document released by the NCC noted that “so if we take the total active broadband subscription figure of 58,965,478 and divide it by a population of 190,886,311 (using United Nations (UN’s) projection of December 2017), that comes to 30.9 percent penetration”.
Although issues could be raised about using the UN figure as baseline, the NCC said that it used the figure for consistency since that appears to be the baseline used by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in earlier studies.
The regulator revealed that if it had used the Nigerian Population Commission (NPC)’s 2006 figure of 140 million, the penetration rate would have been 42.1 percent, which would have been unrealistic and disputed.
In the document, the NCC disputed the ITU Broadband Commission’s September 2018 Report, which stated that Nigeria’s broadband penetration was 19.9 percent by stating that “this cannot be the case, since that report is based on industry statistics of December 2017, which was clearly outdated as at September 2018 when the report was published”.
The Commission stated that its assertion that Nigeria attained 30.9 percent broadband penetration was logical and supported by available data in its custody.