Recently, the apex telecom regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, stated that, broadband penetration in Nigeria, has increased to about 33%, as at February 2019. If this is true, what does it portend for Nigeria? What is the difference between internet access and broadband access? I recently caught up with the Wande Adalemo, the Founder of Atmosphere and he talked on these and other issues relating to broadband and its impact on the Nigerian economy.
CFA: What is broadband and how relevant is it to Nigeria?
Wande: Broadband is the precursor to innovation. Without broadband, we just have internet access. Everybody crawls, everybody draws, it’s too expensive and you really can’t innovate. Things can’t happen as fast as they should. With broadband on the other hand, innovation begins to take off in leaps and bounds and you will see what that has done to the economy of this nation, as against the economies of nations that don’t have broadband.
Now, look at Kenya. Look at what broadband is doing in Kenya, in South Africa and even, in Ghana. The fact is restated by the world economic index that, there is a correlation between the higher broadband speeds and economic development and human capital development as well, so, broadband is pretty very important to the economy and the human capital development of any given nation, especially, it’s a tool now, for globalization. It’s a tool now for education. It’s a tool for medicine. It’s a tool for telecommuting. It’s a tool for the new workforce and of course, it’s a tool for new companies and new products that would come up.
CFA: I think you should start by explaining the difference between internet connection, or, internet access and broadband access.
Wande: Okay. The internet, the world wide web, where you go to your www.gmail.com and the rest of them, is completely different from the tool, the mechanism that you used to get there. You could get on the internet on a 2G phone, for example, or a fibre optics enabled device.
Now, the difference between that, is that, a 2G network, will only give you access to so much, in terms of web pages and all that, but broadband access, gives you access to, not just the internet, but also, to solutions. You are talking about cloud services. You are talking of internet of things. You are talking of telemedicine. Imagine, as an example, someone doing surgery in Nigeria and the doctor is in India and he is using laser equipment, controlled and connected over broadband. You can’t do that over the internet because, the speed you need and the capacity for the data that you need to control that, is much larger.
Broadband fibre optics, WiFi and then, 4G, are broadband related, broadband technologies, however, 2G networks, coaxial, some kinds of coaxial cables are internet related technologies. They really don’t offer much, other than access to information, but access to innovation, is done, only on broadband.
You can watch the full interview here