Nigeria: 'We'll Consolidate Regional Telecom Market' says Suburban’s CEO

Telecoms

Mr Bruce Ayonote is the Chief Executive Officer of Suburban West Africa Limited. His company is a telecommunication services provider to mobile companies such as MTN, Globacom, and Zain. In this interview he speaks on how his company plans to deploy optic fibre technology to connect the entire West African sub-region.

You deployed fibre links from Nigeria to Ghana, Togo and Benin Republic. What is your mission in this regards?

What we intent to do is to connect the sub-region. If you go to most countries around the world, you talk on a continental basis. Regional integration is been a very clearly economic stimulant and development tool to create stronger economies like consolidation.

You don't consolidate only your banks but you consolidate also your market, communications infrastructures and in reality, the logical way to do that is to start from the foundation up at your communication network.

By the time you start doing that, you now connect these markets together and ease the possibilities and realities of trade and commerce. So, we think West Africa should be more than the other regions integrated not only from political perspectives but economic and social perspectives. We think that infrastructure that has been successfully deploy and sustainable now becomes the best test case for that to happen because we have seen considerable amount of infrastructure development in telecommunications that has been sustain for over a decade now.

Even those mobile telecom companies have taken a regional approach in developing and preserving their businesses but what has not been done is the consolidation of the networks because you require transmission to do that.

So, moving in line with the regional trend, the global trend and the trend of our markets, the leadership position that Nigeria has within the sub-region, and the confidence that we have within this organisation, we see that as an opportunity to consolidate those networks and go along with the general progress of making the sub-region a better place.

What is the financial implication of the project?

The financial implications are naturally huge because infrastructure cost a lot of money. However; we have been very careful about our cost and look at strategies that has made us achieve that at a very cost effective price. I won't like to call any figure but there is been quite a lot of money that has been spend.

People feel that optic fibre will leads to reduction in voice tariff. How true is that?

How optic fibre leads to reduction in tariff needs to be appreciated because is a half truth. Optic fibre is one element of the network. There is a lot of element on the network that also play crucial roles.

The optic fibre plays the transmission network. Though it impacts the switching in the sense that if you carry it in a network, you can now have an all IP and if you can have an IP network, your cost will be much cheaper but the issue is that there are various networks within the network.

What the optic fibre does is that it addresses call and your access, based on that it addresses cost on two of these networks and reduces cost seriously.

It also gives the other network, the core network the opportunity to also become much cheaper and to share resources because of the speed and capacity that it carries, you don't have to replicate quite a lot of base stations or switching centres.

You can switch from the central point and the intelligence can be centralise on the network and deliver to other side of the network which can also reduce cost.

For the operational cost, a lot of people will argue that it is not the capital expenditure that is the challenge, but the operational expenditure.

If you are spending so much on diesel, repairing of your network because of cuts and theft, you will still see cost in there.

Bye and large, there is still some reduction like 20-25% of cost reduction impact on the fibre base on the networks.

What is the future of Telecommunication support services in Nigeria?

I think the future for the support services based on the intact of convergence in all of the hierarchy within the networks, the boundaries are been open up.

We've been talking about the transport, international and domestic network. What is going to happen is that we are going to have just one network that delivers services.

That will also mean that support services will be integrated into the general network. So the future is a consolidation of networks based on convergence and global trend.

Daily Trust