Google Free Wi-Fi: New Headache For Broadband Providers in Nigeria - Sundiata Tech

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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Google Free Wi-Fi: New Headache For Broadband Providers in Nigeria



The dust kicked off by Google’s announcement that it will be providing free Wi-Fi in 200 different locations throughout Nigeria by the end of 2019 may not be settling just yet. In fact, it could be raising a new worry for entrenched players that need to depend on broadband infrastructure to provide their services.
Nigeria’s broadband history has been mired in murky waters that are proving very difficult for many of the stakeholders to swim. Since 2013 when the quest to reach 30 per cent penetration by 2018 began, the country is 8 per cent adrift; haven attained 22 per cent.
 

In 2013, Nigeria developed a five-year strategy (The National Broadband Plan) to drive internet and broadband penetration by scaling up the country’s broadband growth to 30 per cent by 2018. The achievement, according to World Bank’s report, will boost Nigeria’s GDP by at least 1.38 per cent, as well as translate into increase productivity across several industries.
Ever since, stakeholders have faced several impediments including a lack of uniformity in Right of Way (RoW) charges. Although the government came up with a policy on RoW charges which stipulate N145 per meter for laying fibre network in every part of the country, majority of the states in the country are yet to adhere to the resolution. The Nigeria Communications Commission said it lacks the power to enforce the resolution; hence players are to hold faith that one day the federal government will remember to meet with states to address the problem.
With seven months of 2018, already gone, it is looking unlikely that the meeting will happen, which means achieving the remaining 8 per cent, as things stand, is highly unlikely by the end of the year.
The Google free Wi-Fi may have just offered the government a means of escape and created a big competitor for local players. In other words, achieving the remaining 8 per cent has just acquired a new hurdle.
Prior to the announcement, the government led by Professor Yemi Osinbajo had visited Google headquarters in Silicon Valley to convince the big tech companies that Nigeria was ready for business.
Whether Google’s significant response was due to the VP’s visit is not the point, the message sent to foreign investors is that the government is willing to support them to relieve it of most of the problems impacting the growth of the economy.
For millions of Nigerians without access to internet living in the 200 locations the company hopes to launch, Google’s announcement is good news, but local internet providers which depend on revenues from customers that pay for it, will be forced to go back to the strategic room.
Would Google take away their launch?
Google from all indications have the blessings of the government and therefore could leverage it big time.
But that is not all. If Google’s free Wi-Fi prove more stable and available than the services provided by local players, the latter will lose majority of their paying customers real soon. How do you compete with a deep pocket tech company like Google?
Forbes makes the point that while Google Station has the potential to bring the web to places where connections may be unrealizable, it can also boost its reach in those areas, potentially benefiting Google’s lucrative online advertising business.
The Google Station was first launched in India, 2015, where new Wi-Fi spots are now operating in 400 railway stations. Picture Google’s free Wi-Fi in that light in 2019 across 200 locations in Nigeria, the local players do need a new strategy as soon as possible.

Source:Businessdayonline.com

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