The Serious Stuff

The Broadband World Forum in Amsterdam kicked off on the 22nd with 4 Keynote speeches. The keynotes were delivered by seasoned stakeholders in the telco Industry.

I will concentrate on the keynote speech from the General Manager of Google Fiber Access. He spoke on Google’s Gigabit Fiber Rollout across 3 cities in America – Kansas (Missouri), Austin (Texas) and Provo (Utah).

As you may or may not know, Google decided to put their boots to the ground. They installed their broadband network in these cities with the aid of fiber optic technology. Before Google’s adventure into the “Hard World”, consumers had been used to low and undependable speeds from mainstream telcos. Google’s broadband adventure became a game-changer and threw down the gauntlet for others to follow.

I will summarize Kevin Lo’s speech in the following points

  • 80 % of video watchers walk away when they see that a video starts to buffer
  • 11% of potential customers will walk away from a website if it loads 1 second too slow
  • Google ran an experiment in which they slowed down their search results by just a blink of the eye and it drastically affected user experience.
  • Users upload 1 hour of content onto YouTube every minute
  • 51 % of American adults do banking online
  • 46% of American adults upload and share photos
  • 37 % of American teenagers participate in video chats online
  • Local Govts can play a huge role in reducing the obstacles to quick fiber rollout
  • This year, the State of Missouri (where Kansas is) created more technology jobs than California, Texas and New York
  • Broadband access has helped motivate a fast growing band of entrepreneurs in Kansas

I don’t know how easy it would be to “port” these statistics over to our system. However, we can all relate to the fact that the greatest issue affecting app user experience within Africa is slow internet access.

Subscribers in Africa are adopting technology as a means of replacing legacy forms of exchange. We have a duty to provide broadband access to Africa’s inhabitants whenever, wherever and in whatever form they desire. As I walked through the vast space that hosts the BBWF, I began to dwell on the following questions

  • Are Nigerian telcos aware of the existence of the local app industry?
  • Do Nigerian app makers realize that user experience may be ultimately determined by bandwidth availability and not properly written code?
  • Are the regulators deeply committed to ensuring availability of broadband access in the major cities?
  • Where do we go from here?

I am still searching for answers

The Real Stuff

Google is planning to deploy balloons to provide internet access in Africa. The idea involves sending balloons 20 km above the earth and transmitting internet signals from space to outdoor receivers attached to houses. The project is aptly named “Project Loon”. I am waiting to see what will come of this project when it is tested in Africa. Google want to put balloons where our witches and wizards meet.

I wish them well.

Oluwole Leigh Author

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