HiREST's Mrakpor calls on Nigerian Govt to encourage broadband growth


The Chief Executive Officer of HiREST Africa Limited, a Nigerian Internet Service Provider; Igho Mrakpor, has called on the Federal Government to put in place policies that will encourage the growth of broadband Internet access in the country through convergence of technology.

Mrakpor made this call at the just concluded Nigeria International GSM Strategic Conference and Exhibition in Abuja last week.

Speaking in his paper entitled "Growing Broadband Internet penetration through Convergence," which was presented by the company's Corporate Affairs Director, Mrs. Ufuoma 'Daro, the HiREST boss noted that currently in the country, only about 3.1 per cent of the population have access to the Internet and convergence of technology will make it easy to increase growth on Internet penetration.

He further noted that statistics have also shown that there is a growing awareness of the importance of the Internet and more Nigerians are itching to have access. "The increase I the umber of users from 200,000 in year 2000 to five million in year 2006 is a clear indication in the growing interest and awareness in the use of the Internet. This therefore, calls for the need to grow the Internet market penetration in the country," he said.

However, Mrakpor advised that social benefits to the end user should be the major motive behind regulation in the era of convergence and not economic gains only." "Every decision the government has to take on this issue of technological convergence should be based on giving consumers benefits in terms of service and cost," he said.

Furthermore, the HiREST boss pointed out that the internet as a platform has developed differently from traditional broadcasting and telecommunications and has been essentially user-driven, with user-owned equipment (the routers performing central rather than peripheral network functions) and users themselves continuing to generate a substantial part of the content, adding that the decentralized nature of the internet is seen by many as the single main reason for its success, and as a lesson for the converging environment.

He added that a major characteristic of the internet, which is indicative of convergence, is that it functions simultaneously as a medium for publishing and communication. Unlike the traditional media the internet simultaneously supports a variety of communication modes, both transactional and broadcast in nature: one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many. An internet user may "speak" or "listen" Interchangeably, interweaving public communication. This constant shift from publishing to private communication modes, each regulated through very different principles, constitutes one of the main challenges of internet regulation.

"Convergence is not all about technology. It is about services and about new ways of doing business and of interacting with the society, consequently, any regulation must focus on the social benefits to the end users," the HiREST boss added.

"A key priority of any regulatory framework should be to seek to meet the needs of users in terms of offering them more choice, improving levels of service and lower prices, whilst fully guaranteeing consumer rights and the general public interest. Such an approach is fully consistent with wider policy goals, which recognizes the important role of many of the sectors in bringing the Information Society into citizen's everyday lives," he noted.

(Source: This Day)