Nigeria will license seven infrastructure companies within the next few weeks as the country moves to an open access policy for broadband networks.
Under so-called open access policies, incumbent carriers have to allow competitors to lease capacity on their networks and offer their own services.
Nigerias GSM subscribers have hit the 130 million mark, but infrastructure build-out has presented a challenge for the country, said a spokesman for the Nigerian Communications Commission. Investment in infrastructure by service providers and the NCC would lead to explosive growth in data services similar to what happened in the voice market, the NCC maintains.
The open access model has been examined as the model for fiber-optic network deployment, according to an NCC consultation paper, "Open Access Model for Next Generation Optic Fibre Broadband Network: The Nigerian Model."
The model is expected to address the challenges presented by congested towns, including the issue of high right-of-way costs in densely populated areas. Infrastructure built on open-access principles can "potentially help optimize the cost of broadband access across Nigeria and ensure that all operators, whether large or small, have equal access to broadband infrastructure."
Government statistics put Internet penetration in Nigeria at 28 percent and broadband penetration for both mobile and fixed broadband at 6.1 percent. Internet access costs are still considered high due mainly to the lack of a comprehensive domestic fiber backbone in the country.
The deadline submitting bids for infrastructure contracts was August 4.