Wireless Remains The Faster Broadband That Can Push To End User At A Moderate Speed
Biodun Omoniyi is the Managing Director at VDT communications. The company which started operations in 2001 is in its 17th year. VDT deals in providing broadband Communications Service. VDT provides terrestrial connectivity to enterprises. In this interview, the MD reveals some of the company’s ups and downs in its almost two decades of existence.
What has changed in the broadband communications service in Nigeria of late?
Some five years ago, the internet was booming and we started having land cables, marine cables other than the sat3 which was deficient in capacity. Now we have glo1, MainOne and sat3. We are quite familiar with passing signals through terrestrial media. That involves copper, fibre optics. It involves wireless. Wireless terrestrial network and that is what we have been doing for those 17years. We envisioned that satellite which was predominant when we started would become irrelevant and that prediction came true about 7 years ago.
How will you rate 2017 for VDT and Nigerian ICT in general?
2017 was a mixture of activities, ups and downs. But, generally, it was more of a preparatory time for 2018. The year wasn’t as bad as 2016 when foreign exchange was not stable. There was a bit of stability in 2017. Most of the equipment that we use to transmit signals to our customers are actually imported. So, we depended heavily on FX which was highly volatile in2016. In 2018, we can start planning for growth.
How has VDT helped in the area of broadband penetration?
To go digital, you need broadband. Because it is on the digital platform that consumers want to buy your service. For VDT I will say we are fortunate to be in this space at this time. Our contribution is to provide easy access to numerous customers. We are very well known in the enterprise space. The new space now where we need to make our impact is the small and medium scale businesses so that they can also experience the dividends of digitalization through the broadband platform.
What is your outlook for 2018?
For 2018 we are trying to expand our services. Currently, we have presence in all the states capital. We went into these places chasing enterprises. Now that we are looking at covering the SME markets, we want to increase presence in these cities. We hope to energize multiple cities in 2018. We ensure we key into the NCC vision 2020. We had always keyed into it all the while in the sense that we are making an investment in this same space. In the last three years, we made multiple million dollars investment in trying to acquire spectrum, types of equipment and we spent far more than N40million dollars. We should be spending more than that in 2018. Like I said earlier, 2016 was not too smooth and 2017 was about trying to stabilize, there is no way that will not also affect the NCC vision 2020. Is like two years out of the plan, it will show. I believe those grounds could be covered in2018/2019. That is if we see stability in policy and security in the environment. It has not moved according to plan for obvious reasons but, I have no doubt that the vision can be achieved.
What is the future of broadband?
From satellite to fibre optics and there is wireless. At VDT, we are more of a wireless communications company. These technologies have their advantages given the same conditions. You can consider which one will give the highest speed at a lesser cost. Speed is commonly used to access in the broadband world and how much it cost to take it to the last man. Also, how quickly can it be deployed to the last person? The three of them will continue to coexist, it only depends on which industry is using what now. The wireless broadband remains the one that can push faster to end user at a moderate speed. Fibre is very good. It can be as fast as you want it to be. But, it has its drawbacks in providing it. Providing it will require getting involved with the local and state government. Combined with digging and labour more so, in Nigeria where there is no much control. Anyone can just put a digger on the ground and cut your cable. That will mean a disruption in the service. You need to look at the situation of the end users and use a combination of these technologies. The three technologies are here to stay.