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Equiano: Google Targets Infracos to Reap Broadband Naira

Equiano: Google Targets Infracos to Reap Broadband Naira
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Google hopes to partner with Infracos in Nigeria to take its Equiano undersea cable beyond the shores of the country towards tapping into the subscriber market for broadband services.

The tech giant recently announced the launch of Equiano to offer broadband service alongside MainOne, Glo and other competitors in the Nigerian market.

Juliet Ehimuan, Director, Google West Africa, says research estimates show that Africa is set to have 300 million internet users, with Nigeria in the lead ”given its current statistics of over 141 million internet subscribers and broadband penetration of over 40.88 per cent as at January 2022.”

Nigeria, through the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has issued seven Infraco (open access fibre) licences to Infraco Nigeria Limited, Brinks Integrated Solution Limited, Zinox Technologies Limited, Fleek Networks Nigeria Limited, Raeanna Nigeria Limited, Oodua Infraco Resource Limited, and Broadbased Communications Ltd.

The Infracos, according to NCC, will receive government support to build a national broadband network and offer the capacity to all service providers on a non-discriminatory, open-access, and price-regulated basis under a broader plan to use their respective networks to help boost Nigeria’s broadband and drive national growth of ICTs.

equiano-google-targets-infracos-for-broadband-naira
Engineer Ubale Maska, NCC Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, on the left, and Juliet Ehimuan, Director, Google West Africa, owners of the Equiano undersea cable, during the visit.

Google on Equiano Subsea Cable and Digital Tranformation in Nigeria

Meanwhile, Ehimuan, who dropped the hint when she led Google Global Services Nigeria on a visit to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), says the tech giant wants to explore viable collaborative interventions to propel digital transformation across the country and Africa.

“I am hopeful,”  says the Google West Africa Director “that Equiano will have an additional landing points in the hinterlands through collaborative efforts with the licensed Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) to reduce retail data prices significantly and thereby complementing the Commission’s efforts at ensuring affordable Internet services are available to boost the Commission’s ongoing broadband policy drive.”

She says that Google’s commitment of $1billion across five years in various interventions will support digital transformation in Nigeria and across Africa.

Juliet Ehimuan, Director, Google West Africa, says research estimates show that Africa is set to have 300 million internet users, with Nigeria in the lead ”given its current statistics of over 141 million internet subscribers and broadband penetration of over 40.88.

Demands for internet services have increased the need for more capacity, she says underscores the need for sustainable collaborations with all relevant stakeholders within the public and private sectors. 

The Equiano cable system, the third private international cable owned by Google and the 14th subsea cable invested in by the tech giant connects Portugal and South Africa, running along the West Coast of Africa, with branching units along the way that can be used to extend connectivity to more African countries. 

NCC and Google share a common, she says while commending the telecoms regulator for its seamless, fair, credible, impartial, and successful auction of the 3.5 Gigahertz spectrum for the deployment of Fifth Generation (5G) in Nigeria.

Receiving the Google delegation, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, NCC Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, (EVC/CEO) of NCC, represented by Engr. Ubale Maska, Executive Commissioner, Technical Services (ECTS), says the regulator’s expectations, initiatives, and vision towards increasing broadband penetration, quality of service, advancement of a digital economy, and commitment to improving national security through technological advancement are at the front burner of its regulatory interventions.

Underscoring the importance of such synergy between the Commission and Google, Danbatta, who was, said the Commission looked forward to making the initiatives of both parties more impactful by enhancing cooperation between the NCC and Google Nigeria for quantifiable and remarkable impact.

The arrival of Google’s undersea cable, Equiano, will be more impactful in driving NCC’s ongoing implementation of the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020-2025, aimed at increasing broadband penetration to 70 per cent by 2025.

“I am hopeful that Equiano,” he says, “will have an additional landing points in the hinterlands through collaborative efforts with the licensed Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) to reduce retail data prices significantly and thereby complementing the Commission’s efforts at ensuring affordable Internet services are available to boost the Commission’s ongoing broadband policy drive.”

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