Abuja Gets N670m First Wireless Internet Network

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), Mallam Ahmed Nasir el-Rufai last weekend in Abuja launched the first citywide wireless Internet Network project in Nigeria termed CT Access in conjunction with Suburban Broadband Limited. The project is valued at N670 million.

Speaking at the event, El-Rufai who noted the role of technology in modern development said that Suburban would invest an estimated N670million ($5m) in the project representing 80 per cent of the total investment to help it provide access coverage for the entire city and suburbs while the FCT authority will through the Abuja Investment and Property Development Corporation (AIPDC) bring in the remaining 20 per cent through Rights of Ways, access to land and co-location sites to build Base Transceiver Stations.

According to him, the availability of an effective communications infrastructure which is used as one of several indicators for measuring a country’s standard of living under the Human Development Index (HDI) has for long eluded the country in despite efforts by successive administrations to reverse the trend therefore leaving the country to feature prominently in the lower half of the HDI with her citizens weighed down by lack of access to decent infrastructure, declining quality of education and inadequate healthcare facilities.

Stating that the country has a miserly 400,000 odd lines in 1999, the minister explained that the able guidance of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) since 2001 has witnessed an unprecedented boom in telecommunications growth, making Nigeria the fastest growing retail market for mobile telephony in the world with about 14million lines and teledensity of about 12 per cent.

Riding on the back of the above achievement, El-Rufai said the FCT administration early this year in conjunction with Suburban conceived the idea of the first seamless wireless internet network project in the country because of the belief that the development of sound and effective communications will be a catalyst for social and economic activities in the FCT.

“Since the development of an effective communications network was and remains consistent with FCT’s Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (FEEDS), we seized on the opportunity to use this as technology enabler to bridge the digital divide that has existed due to the unavailability of affordable broadband internet and data related infrastructure and services in the city. The Ministry realized that by encouraging the establishment of CT Access the city municipality will achieve the aim of building digital infrastructure that would enhance communications among residents and business, and also assist us in the delivery of public services in efficient and cost effective manner” he added.

He said already, 20 hotspots from which the residents and visitors can now enjoy broadband internet access has been rolled with a projection of up to 60 hotspots in the first half of 2006 and that ” residents and visitors have been encouraged to enjoy internet access at any of the locations where the hotspots are available at no cost whatsoever though not indefinitely”

As the CT Access is a business venture with the aim of making profit, the free access will be replaced with affordable scratch cards to be sold by designated vendors from early next year and the scratch cards will be provided for mobile users for as low as N500 airtime.

El-Rufai promised that the FCT administration will support the project and ensure that whatever challenges the project will face in terms of availability of power supply and security of the routers and radio equipment will be resolved within the shortest possible time.

“CT Access with its single integrated network infrastructure will provide a scalable solution that will ensure flexibility to meet and exceed users’ expectations for continuous connectivity. This is major feat yet to be accomplished by any city in the whole of Nigeria and even West Africa” El-Rufai stated.

The wireless internet network project will provide FCT resident and other users with a cost effective means of communication and guarantees high speed internet access at all times without having to contend with the limited link-up provided by dial up connection.

Source: Daily Champion (Lagos), Erasmus Alaneme (link opens in a new window)