Nigeria’s state-owned incumbent operator Nitel has launched a pilot project for its wholesale ADSL service in the city of Abuja. The operator aims to sell bandwidth on its broadband network to the country’s internet service providers (ISP), which will be sold on to corporate users. The popularity in broadband services is likely to be limited due to the lack of infrastructure and low GDP per capita in the country, currently at around US$570. Moreover, although the country has some 36 ISPs, the majority have just a handful of subscribers each, which leads BMI to expect that the number of broadband users will not reach 1mn until 2010, a penetration rate of just 0.6%.

The operator’s broadband network has been designed to run over its existing copper line infrastructure. Users wishing to connect to the service will need a Nitel telephone exchange that is enabled for broadband use, and must have a Nitel phone line that allows users to sign up with one of Nitel’s partner ISPs.

Although the government has already licensed a large number of fixed wireless operators to provide high-speed internet services, Nitel is the first of the major operators in the country to start roll out of a broadband service. Globacom, which also has a licence to offer internet services, currently does not offer high-speed data services. Meanwhile, Nitel has said that it already has plans to offer broadband services in the capital Lagos, and is likely to continue rolling out services to other main cities throughout the country over 2006.